Womenswear retailer Bonmarche eyes more garden centre sites after good results

Over-50s womenswear retailer Bonmarche plans to open in more garden centres after a trial run showed the sites delivered encouraging sales.

The West Yorkshire-based business, which runs 268 stores, tested concessions in three garden centres last year and plans to open 15 to 20 concessions in the next year, many of which will also be in garden centres.

Bonmarche said pre-tax profits jumped 66 per cent to £8 million in the year to March 29 while like-for-like sales rose 10.4 per cent as it also benefited from a store refitting programme.

The results are the first since Bonmarche floated on the stock market last November and represent a turnaround for the business which was sold in 2012 as part of the collapsed Peacock group to private equity business Sun European Partners.

The firm, which is chaired by the former Tesco deputy chief executive Tim Mason, carried out its garden centre trials at The Garden Centre Group centres at Lechlade, Bicester and Andover. Lechlade has recently undergone a refit by Vear, adding concessions after TGCG bought it from Park Garden Centres in 2013. Vear is now pricing to revamp more of TGCG's 140-centre estate.

Bonmarche chief executive Beth Butterwick said that gardening was the fourth most popular activity among its customers and shoppers at these concessions tended to be "slightly more affluent."

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