Shares of Wakefield-based Bonmarché, the discount fashion retailer aimed at women over 50, rose about 10% after it said its profit before tax rose 38.1% to £8 million in the 52 weeks to March 31 “against the backdrop of challenging trading conditions” and that current trading had strengthened.
Total revenue for the 52 weeks was £186 million compared to £190.1 million in the previous 53-week period.
Online sales soared 34.5% while store like-for-like sales fell 4.5%. Online “sales participation” increased from 7% to 9.5% of total sales.
Recommended final dividend is increased to 5.25p per share, bringing the total for FY18 to 7.75p, an increase of 8.5%
Bonmarché CEO Helen Connolly said: “Against the backdrop of challenging trading conditions, I am pleased that we have delivered an increase in profit before tax compared to last year.
“We have made good progress in all areas, particularly online, where we have seen strong growth, whilst also making improvements through a number of other self-help initiatives including the product proposition, the loyalty scheme, and developing a more agile supply base.
“Whilst we expect the market to remain difficult, trading since the beginning of the new financial year has been stronger than during H2 of FY18, and is in line with the board’s expectations.
“We have a clear strategy in place to continue to improve our proposition, which we expect to do during FY19 and beyond.
“We remain confident that with its unique offering, aimed at fashion and value conscious women, Bonmarché is well positioned for future growth.”
In his outlook, chairman John Coleman said: “Trading since the beginning of the new financial year has been in line with the board’s expectations.
“The financial position of the business continues to be sound, with no net debt, and the robust balance sheet provides a stable platform for the future.
“We will continue to improve our proposition, through the implementation of a series of self-help initiatives.
“Whilst we anticipate that the market will remain difficult, we expect these ongoing improvements to make a real difference to customers, and we look forward, with confidence, to delivering further progress in the coming financial year.”