Bonmarché profits wilt in September's heat wave

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Shares in struggling over-fifties fashion chain Bonmarché plunged more than 20% today as the retailer warned on profits after an “unseasonably hot” September.

The budget retail chain said trading this month had been “extremely poor”. Same-store sales in its first-half were estimated to be down 8%.

The downturn, plus “considerable uncertainty as to market conditions”, led the board to downgrade its full-year pre-tax profits forecast to between £5 million and £7 million. Last year pre-tax profit totalled £9.6 million.

In the unscheduled update boss Helen Connolly, formerly Asda’s top womenswear buyer who took over from Beth Butterwick in August, blamed “the effectiveness of execution”. But she insisted the “direction of travel is right”.

Connolly (pictured) is to provide a comprehensive strategy update soon and said it will likely focus on “the clarity of the customer proposition and operational improvements in all channels rather than a major strategic repositioning”. Bonmarché shares, which listed on AIM at 200p in 2013, today fell 29.5p to 85.5p despite a pledge to keep the interim dividend at 2.5p a share.

Cantor’s Freddie George said the stock would remain “under a cloud” after the update but was “relatively good value, and there is evidence of a recovery and a turnaround in sales”.

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September 21, 2016 |
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