Bonmarché expects full-year profits to meet expectations despite suffering a slump in like-for-like sales in its stores.

The value womenswear retailer said like-for-like store sales fell 4.3% during the 53 weeks to April 1, but hailed “stronger” performance during February and March.

Total sales during the same period dipped 0.5%, while online sales climbed 2.2%.

In its fourth quarter, the 14 weeks to April 1, Bonmarché said store like-for-likes declined at the slower rate of 0.5% as new chief executive Helen Connolly’s efforts to rejuvenate the business began to bear fruit.

Sales growth

Total sales rose 2.7% in the quarter, while online sales spiked 15.2%.

Store and online like-for-like sales combined returned to growth during the quarter, increasing 0.7%.

Bonmarché said full-year pre-tax profit before exceptional items will be “slightly above” £6m.

Last September, the business issued a profit warning following an “extremely poor” month and re-adjusted its full-year guidance to between £5m and £7m.

Bonmarché posts its preliminary results on June 19.

Challenging fashion market

Connolly, who vowed to return Bonmarché to growth after joining the embattled business from Asda last August, said: “As anticipated, trading conditions post-Christmas continued to be challenging, but this was accounted for when we issued the revised profit guidance last September, and therefore the final result for the year is in line with our expectations.

“Store like-for like sales were negative in January but stronger during February and March, and we also saw the resumption of growth in online sales following improvements made to our online offering.”

Connolly warned that the fashion market would “remain challenging” in the year ahead, but insisted Bonmarché was “actively taking measures to improve our proposition to customers.”

She said the “successful implementation” of her strategy, which she is yet to reveal in detail to the City, would allow Bonmarché to return to growth in the 2017/18 financial year.