Clothing group appoints buying director to stop the rot at mature womenswear chain
The Peacock Group saw gains made at its value womenswear chain cancelled out by competition in the mature market, forcing the retailer to warn on full-year profits.The group reported a total sales increase of 12.5 per cent for the 13 weeks to January 1. Like-for-like sales were also up, by 3.4 per cent. Like-for-like sales at the group's Peacocks chain and Fragrance Shop stores were up 9.5 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively. However, the group's Bonmarché chain reported a decrease in like-for-like sales of 8.5 per cent.

The eponymous chain benefited from continuing customer interest in value womenswear and footwear, and from the ongoing refurbishment programme. The project saw a further 12 stores refitted during the quarter.

Bonmarché continued to disappoint, however, as aggressive discounting and a demand for higher fashion content within the mature womenswear market ramped up competition for the brand. The retailer admitted that some elements of the product offer didn't match the demand for fashionability, and lacked key customer appeal. The group said it was focussing on developing classic ranges, and on creating improved contemporary ranges to react a change in core customer tastes. It has also announced the appointment of Jennifer Greenacre as Bonmarché buying director. She joins in April from BMB Apparel, the clothing distributor run by Jaeger owner Harold Tillman.

Commenting on the trading figures, Peacock Group chief executive Richard Kirk said: 'While we remain confident that Bonmarché can return to growth, given the action we have taken, the board is of the view that the anticipated improvement in the performance of that business will take longer to come through than had been hoped. Therefore, despite strong trading elsewhere, [the board] has thought it prudent to reduce internal profit forecasts by£4 million for the full year.'