Bonmarché today reported a 38.6% rise in online sales, while total sales grew by 5% and pre-tax profits more than doubled to £4.2m.
The value womenswear retailer, a Top100 trader in IRUK Top500 research, reported total revenue up by 5% to £97.8m in the six months to September 30. Like-for-like sales grew by 4.3%, while store-only sales grew by 1.6% again on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the effect of store openings and closures. Pre-tax profits of £4.2m were 114.4% up on the same time last year.
Chief executive Helen Connolly said: “I have been encouraged by the way the teams have worked cross functionally to deliver an improved product offer and a better experience for our customers, whether in store or online. We are only at the beginning of the journey in some areas of our strategy and there is a strong plan to support future growth. I do not expect the clothing market to become any less challenging in the near future, and therefore remain focussed on continuing to grow by profitably gaining market share.”
Here’s what the retailer said about its multichannel strategy.
Bonmarché is working to modernise its customer proposiition. This, it says, is “supported by a clear view of our customers and improved effectiveness of operational execution and in the implementation of plans”. The strategy focuses on product, online, loyalty, stores, and systems and processes.
Online sales grew fast following the introduction of an online plan focused on improving the customer experience. The retailer has moved away from relying on online discounts while working to improve product quality and targeting its online marketing more efficiently. Its delivery offer has been improved to give free delivery when shoppers spend £35 or more. In the future the retail aims to make the move between online and store shopping more seamless, while more work will be done to improve delivery options.
“The emphasis we are placing on improving our online operation, and the wider investments we are making to modernise our systems and capabilities, should enable us to adapt to and benefit from the continuing trend for online shopping to increase its share of consumer spending,” said Bonmarché in its half-year statement.
Bonmarché is working to modernise its Bonus Club loyalty scheme, in order to make it more appealing to members and be more effective in recognising different levels of loyalty and in bridging the gap between online and the store, while reducing the overall cost of discounts. It said it believed that GDPR regulations which it is working towards, would increase the value of a loyalty scheme since it would be more difficult to use cold marketing approaches.
Bonmarché aims to develop the link between stores and online. “Whilst much attention is rightly directed at the increasing importance of online shopping, our strategy is to develop Bonmarché as a multi-channel business, since customers who shop via both channels are the most valuable,” said the business. “Furthermore, the store estate remains the preferred shopping channel for the majority of our customers.”
Developments have included the roll-out of in-store ordering to stores, while in-store cameras monitor footfall.