UK value women's wear retailer Bonmarché has said it is particularly pleased with the further progress in online sales, which helped to boost total revenue by 7.6% for the first quarter.

In a trading update today (27 July), the retailer said like-for-like sales at it stores increased by 4.2%, while online sales jumped 39%.

The news comes a month after Bonmarché outlined a new plan it hopes will help grow the business after posting a 40% slump in full-year earnings and conceded efforts to modernise its business are not working.

Bonmarche outlines growth plan as FY earnings tumble

CEO Helen Connolly said while the retailer is still in the early stages of implementing its strategy, she is "encouraged" by the positive response from customers to the developments in its ranges and the improvements it is making to the shopping experience.

"The improved sales performance during the first quarter, achieved in a clothing market which remains challenging, underpins our confidence in the strategy, and our expectations for the full year remain unchanged," she added.

Honor Strachan, principal retail analyst at GlobalData, notes Bonmarché has started its new financial year on a positive note – albeit up against weak comparatives.

Achieving store like-for-like growth is a particular feat, she added, given offline clothing and footwear sales in the UK are forecast to fall 1.0% in 2017, but achieving another set of positive results in the second quarter will be the "real test" for Bonmarché.

"The July to August period has become incredibly tough for clothing retailers, with sale periods dragging – not helped this year by a wet July impacting clearance levels – and little consumer demand to buy into new autumn ranges much before October," Strachan added. "Transeasonal pieces, outfit building and new in high summer must-haves must be phased into stores and online frequently, giving consumers reason to browse and pick up wants-driven purchases.