Bonmarché today reported "disappointing" full-year online sales after a "challenging" 12 months for its digital operation. By the end of the year, ecommerce accounted for 7.3% of total retail sales. Ecommerce grew by £0.5m, or 3.6%, on the same time last year.
The update came as the value women's fashion retailer, a Top150 company in IRUK Top500
research, today reported revenue of £188m in the year to March 26, 5.3% up on the same time last year. Online sales rose by 3.6% while store like-for-likes were up by 0.7%. Bottom-line pre-tax profits came in at £9.6m, 22.9% down on the £12.4m reported in the previous year, following the £1m cost of its stockmarket listing.
The company said the weakest months online came on either side of its responsive site implementation in July 2015, and in December when the high spending of Black Friday spending was followed by weak trading. In the first half, sales grew by 6.5%, with online sales up by 4.2%. But in the second half of the year, sales growth slowed to 4.1%, and online sales grew by 3.1%. However, it said its responsive site now delivered a better shopping experience for customers using tablet computers – 40% of digital sales came through this route – or smartphones (13%). Less than half of ecommerce sales (47%) were made via traditional PCs. During the coming year the company plans to replatform to Demandware, and says this will enable online gift card functionality, while giving the ability to better align store and online prices. At the same time, Bonmarché will extend its fulfilment service to enable later next day delivery and the ability to track parcels.
Chief executive Beth Butterwick said: "Bonmarché's performance for the year has been achieved amidst the difficult trading conditions widely reported across the retail sector.
"We have emerged from this period with a clear focus on our five key strategic pillars for growth. With significant improvements for the benefits of our customer, we are focused on driving our modernisation plan over the coming year. We firmly believe that with its unique position as a niche retailer, focused on catering for the mature female demographic, Bonmarché is well placed for the future."
As well as selling through a network of stores and online through bonmarche.com, it also operates a catalogue, TV shopping through the Ideal World channel, and a call centre for telephone orders.