Bonmarche, headquartered in Yorkshire, has revealed that they have ended their trial of menswear as soon as possible. This comes after pre-tax profits and like for like sales for 2016 all hit a massive slump, and the company was equipped with a new CEO in August. Helen Connolly, the new CEO, aims to make some big changes, starting with the menswear line.
After a tumultuous few months, with slumping profits and a new CEO at its helm, Bonmarche, headquartered in Yorkshire, is making some significant changes. One of the first and biggest is that they have ended their small line of menswear clothing as of Christmas 2016. Helen Connolly, the company’s new CEO, has stated that she felt this was an unnecessary peripheral activity, the energy of which should be spent on simplifying and modernizing the business instead.
Bonmarche has had some great difficulties, with before tax profits dropping to just £2 million in September 2016, down from £5.4 million the previous year. A 4% drop in revenue was also recorded, down to £93.1 million. One of the reasons for this, according to the retail giant, was the weather.
A representative from the store says: “People buy their summer clothes in May, June, and July. Unfortunately, those months were unseasonably cool in 2016, and this had a massive effect on our business. People just don’t buy t-shirts when they still have to wear a coat. Then, in September, it was still warm! This meant people didn’t want to buy our regular basics, like coats.”
Indeed, by the time Connolly came at the company’s helm, it immediately had to run a sale in order to get rid of its summer stock and some say that this was the first time any of their items actually sold.
Another main issue affecting Bonmarche, however, is that BHS went into administration in April 2016. Being the store’s biggest competitor, many people ended up buying there in order to receive items at a significantly discounted price. This was noticed in the sales made in April and May 2016 at Bonmarche in particular.
One of the things Connolly immediately noticed, however, was that menswear was only available in very small numbers, and that there was little to no interest in it at all. Furthermore, men do not fit the company’s customer “persona”, which was initially represented by four different women, and now by just one – Lisa.
The Bonmarche spokesperson says: “Lisa now represents all of our target market. But she is that ‘sweetspot’, if you like, that meets all of our personal aims. Lisa is slightly younger and is interested in modern lines, which is exactly what today’s market is looking for.”
One of the ways Bonmarche wants to attract the younger-aged customer represented by Lisa – a woman in her early 50s – is by working together with Mark Heyes on creating television advertisements. The relationship with Heyes, being the new brand ambassador for Bonmarche, is in its infancy, but it looks to be a very good one.
Connolly has taken over Bonmarche and she is steering it in what she believes to be the correct direction: one that targets a specific woman, with whom almost any woman can identify. This means creating things that are more modern, including television advertisements, and moving away from obsolete things like the store’s menswear department. Those people who worked for that department have now been given other tasks and tools, with Connolly only making a very limited number of mid-management professionals redundant. Although the new results are not in yet, people believe that Bonmarche has been able to turn a corner.