Bonmarche posted a sales slump over the third quarter as Christmas trading failed to deliver for the troubled womenswear chain.

The retailer said that like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to December 29 dropped 7.8 per cent, while total sales plunged 8.1%.

In store alone, comparable sales tumbled 11.1%.

The lacklustre figures come after a December profit warning sent the firm's shares crashing.

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Bonmarche said at the time that it could slip to a £4 million annual loss amid "unprecedented" tough trading conditions.

Chief executive Helen Connolly said conditions on the high street are worse than those seen during the recession sparked by the financial crisis.

It came after trading during the Black Friday week was "extremely poor", with ongoing subdued demand despite "extensive" discounting. It also blamed Brexit for adding to the consumer woes.

The chief executive said: "Clearly, in the short time since our last update, macro market conditions have not changed, but I am pleased that the sale stock is clearing well and that trading is in line with our revised expectations.

"In the short term, we continue to focus on ending the year with a clean stock position and ensuring that our balance sheet remains healthy."

One bright spot was online, where sales rose 22% in the third quarter, although that was slower growth than in Bonmarche's first half.

Shares were up nearly 7% in morning trade to 39.5p.


Vodafone has reported a drop in quarterly revenue but remained firm on its growth expectations for the full year.

Group revenue was 11 billion euros (£9.52b) in the third quarter, down by 0.8bn euros.

The company blamed the decline on new accounting standards, foreign exchange headwinds and the sale of its Qatar business.
It reiterated guidance of 3 per cent growth in underlying earnings for the year.

European revenue was down by 1.1% but the company said it had seen improving consumer trends in Italy and Spain.

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Chief executive Nick Read said: "We have executed at pace this quarter and have improved the consistency of our commercial performance.

"Lower mobile contract churn across our markets and improved customer trends in Italy and Spain are encouraging, however these have not yet translated into our financial results, with a similar revenue trend in Europe to Q2."

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Mastercard has trumped rival Visa with a higher offer for British payments firm Earthport.

Earthport provides cross-border payment services to banks and businesses.

The bid values Earthport at £233 million, compared with Visa's £198m offer which was announced in December.
In a statement to the market on today, the board of Earthport withdrew its recommendation for Visa's offer and urged shareholders to instead support the Mastercard deal.

At 33p per share, the new bid offers a 10 per cent premium on the previous one and a 343% premium on Earthport's closing price of 7.45p prior to either offer being announced.

Earthport's interim chairman, Sunil Sabharwal, said: "The board of Earthport is pleased to recommend Bidco's cash offer for Earthport, which is at a 10% premium to the Visa proposal. This offer provides our shareholders with even greater value in cash for their shares."

The board has also proposed that a meeting scheduled for February 21, at which shareholders would have voted on the Visa deal, be adjourned.

Shareholders will vote on the Mastercard takeover at a later date.