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Bonmarche is latest retailer to warn over profits after slow summer in stores

PUBLISHED: 08:34 27 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:34 27 September 2018

Bonmarche on St Stephens Street, Norwich. The company has warned over profits after the summer and weak consumer confidence dented its second quarter sales. Picture: Archant

Bonmarche on St Stephens Street, Norwich. The company has warned over profits after the summer and weak consumer confidence dented its second quarter sales. Picture: Archant

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016

Womenswear retailer Bonmarche has become the latest in the sector to warn over profits, blaming the hot summer for a decline in sales.

The company, which has stores in Norwich, Dereham, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, said that while online sales held up during the second quarter store revenue has come in below expectations.

It now expects underlying pre-tax profit for the year to be around £5.5m – a sharp fall from last year’s £8m.

Bonmarche shares collapsed more than 20% following the news.

Chief executive Helen Connolly said: “These are undoubtedly challenging times in the retail industry and, in common with many other businesses, Bonmarche’s store trading has been impacted by weaker consumer sentiment and footfall.

“We remain focused on exploiting the opportunity afforded by the increasing demand for online shopping, whilst modernising the store offer and customer experience.”

The high street chain also expects to take a foreign currency hit in the year.

This year has not been a good one for Bonmarche – its shares plunged at the start of the year after it revealed a collapse in Christmas trading, and it was then hit by the Beast from the East in March.

This summer’s hot weather “may have delayed demand for early autumn stock”, the group said on Thursday.

It is the latest high street firm to run into trouble this year as rising costs and declining consumer sentiment hammer the sector.

Bonmarche – which was founded in 1982 was acquired by the Peacock Group in 2002 – has been revamping its online offering after poor website sales in 2016-17, making it more customer-friendly and improving its marketing tactics.

The group also overhauled its supplier base over the past year and cut costs where possible to counter difficult retail conditions and a hit from the weak pound, which pushed up buying costs.

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