Bonmarche warns over steeper losses after March sales hit

Struggling retailer Bonmarche has warned over steeper-than-expected losses after sales woes returned in March.

The womenswear chain said it has seen “significantly weaker” trading since the start of the month, reversing a bounceback in January and February after it resorted to heavy discounting to shift stock.

It warned that it believes sales are likely to remain under pressure throughout March.

The group now expects underlying pre-tax losses of between £5 million and £6 million for the year to the end of March.

This compares with the £4 million annual loss previously pencilled in at the time of its December profit warning.

It said: “We believe that the recent downturn in trading is a consequence of the demand for transitional ranges, between winter and spring, having been satisfied during January and February.

“Although sales of spring season stock benefited from the spell of warm weather in late February, this is not yet a large enough part of the sales mix to compensate for the lower demand for transitional stock.”

But it said it remains on track with expectations for 2019-20 thanks to the “positive early reaction to the spring product”.

It added that it is expecting bank financing to continue to be adequate even at the steepest losses forecast for the year to March.

The warning comes after the December profit alert sent the firm’s shares crashing.

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