Underlying profit before tax fell 21% to £3.3m at value womenswear retailer Bonmarché in the 26 weeks to 29 September.
Combined like-for-like sales slipped by 1% during the same period. Store only like-for-like sales declined by 4%. The retailer admitted bricks-and-mortar had experienced “challenges” but added that almost all its stores remain profitable and that short term leases provided flexibility.
Online sales were up by 28.9%, driven by offering customers a broader range of product and sizes online, as well as an increase in instore ordering. Ecommerce sales now account for 12% of total sales at Bonmarché.
Chief executive Helen Connolly said: “Whilst store trading has been impacted by the general weaker consumer sentiment and footfall seen across the market, we have continued to improve our proposition, particularly our digital capabilities and with a broader, modernised product offer, which is reflected in our strong online performance. We remain focussed on exploiting the opportunity afforded by the increasing demand for online shopping and are encouraged by customers’ responses to new ranges such as denim, leisurewear and resortwear.
“Providing that sales during the key Black Friday through to Christmas trading period meet expectations, the board maintains the guidance published in September, being that the underlying profit before tax for the group for FY19 will be £5.5m.”
Bonmarché issued a profit warning in September, blaming falling in-store sales. The retailer now expects underlying profit before taxation for the full year 2019 to be approximately £5.5m, compared to £8m in 2018.