A dire H1 performance from Bonmarche, on its first update with Helen Connolly at the helm, with sales falling by £3.9 million on the year, despite the opening of net six new stores and concessions.
Like-for-like Bonmarche sales declined even further than its revised forecast in September.
As a result, operating profit fell 62.8 per cent to £2 million. While external factors such as unseasonal weather and BHS’s extensive closing down sale have taken their toll, the fault ultimately lies with Bonmarche and its lack of a compelling product offer.
Bonmarche has an opportunity to become the go-to destination for 50+ females, especially given that BHS is no longer trading; however it must act quickly as competition will grow as more players target this lucrative segment, with the likes of JD Williams and Matalan holding potential. With mature shoppers feeling and dressing younger, Bonmarche has its work cut out to sufficiently modernise the brand and increase its relevance among shoppers.
While the value specialist has made efforts to revamp its offer, and continues to reduce its focus on more traditional product, it has not gone far enough. Introducing more contemporary designs and cuts, and injecting more fashionability and style into its proposition will be key to building appeal among the mature customer base and shaking off its old-fashioned brand image.
However, as shoppers’ discretionary spend comes under further pressure in 2017, Bonmarche’s value proposition makes it well placed to benefit from consumers trading down. Alongside more weather-appropriate and youthful ranges, Bonmarche needs to showcase its value for money offer, focus on full price sales and drive incremental purchases if it is to get back on track.
- Kate Ormrod is an analyst with Verdict Retail.