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Bonmarché marked down as LFL sales turn negative

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Shares in womenswear retailer Bonmarché (LON:BON) were remaindered on Friday morning after it revealed like-for-like sales have been negative in 2015.

Excluding online sales, like-for-like (LFL) dales in the 13 weeks to 28 March were down 4.7% year-on-year, though online sales in the same period were up 14.5% from a year earlier.

The tougher environment in the second half of the financial year dragged the full-year outcome down, though LFL sales over 52 weeks were still up year-on-year, at +4.0%.

Broker Cantor Fitzgerald said sales were worse than expected "but we believe management has managed gross margins and costs, which ensure that company will more than meet market expectations."

That ties in with management commentary in the trading update, which indicated full-year numbers will be in line with the board's expectations.

Beth Butterwick, chief executive officer, conceded the financial year was one of two halves; the first saw a strong performance, helped by good summer weather, but the mild autumn created more difficult conditions in the second half of the financial year.

Cantor Fitzgerald noted there was no comment in the update on gross margins although the company does state that through the targeted use of promotions and discounts its underlying terminal stock position was similar to the previous year.

The broker is standing pat with its forecasts for the fiscal year just ended and the current year.

"The stock might be impacted by the weaker than expected Q4 LFLs; however, we are aware that fashion sales over the last quarter have generally been underwhelming in the first quarter of 2015," it said, as it reiterated its 'buy' recommendation and price target of 320p.

Shares in Bonmarché were marked down 5.3% to 261.85p in early trading.

Quick facts: Bonmarché Holdings plc

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LSE:BON
Market: LSE
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