Bonmarché’s full-year profits have jumped under new boss Helen Connolly despite falling like-for-likes.

Pre-tax profit stood at £8m for the 52 weeks to March 31, 2018, an increase of 38.1%.

However, like-for-likes fell 4.5% while total sales dipped 0.5% to £223.1m.

Sales from new stores rose 100%, while online sales grew 34.5%.

The business said store sales were “disappointing overall” but added that the performance varied throughout the  year. The first half was stronger than the second, which was hit by periods of unseasonable weather.

Connolly said Bonmarché had increased its open-to-buy quotient over the year, which allowed greater buying flexibility as the year progressed and revised its promotional calendar, reducing discounting but retaining “a high enough cadence of promotions to keep customers interested and engaged”.

Current trading has since improved although, the business added, the market remains difficult.

Connolly said: “We have made good progress in all areas, particularly online, where we have seen strong growth, while 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.

“We have a clear strategy in place to continue to improve our proposition, which we expect to do during 2019 and beyond. We remain confident that with its unique offering, aimed at fashion and value conscious women, Bonmarché is well positioned for future growth.”