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Figleaves in profit but N Brown warns confidence is waning

N Brown’s etail lingerie business Figleaves has made a half-year profit for the first time in its history, but the home shopping fashion group faces an uphill battle until the end of the year as consumer confidence deteriorates.

N Brown expects Figleaves, which it acquired last year for £11.5m, to achieve a full-year profit in its next financial year.

The retailer declined to give numbers, but said the first-half profit made was “small”.

Figleaves’ underlying losses were cut to £900,000 in N Brown’s year to February 26 from a £6.4m loss in the 12 months to June 28, 2009.

N Brown notched up a 5.9% increase in pre-tax profit to £44.8m in its first half to August 27. Like-for-likes were up 1.5%.

However, chief executive Alan White said consumer confidence was dampening and expressed caution about the Christmas trading period.

White said N Brown had seen erratic shopping patterns in recent weeks, with sales up 11% last weekend, compared to an 18% slump the previous weekend. In the six weeks to October 8 its like-for-like sales dropped 1.5%.

White said the volatility is making it difficult to predict trading in the run-up to Christmas and he expects promotions to set the tone for the golden quarter.

He said: “There is too much stock in the market as a whole. It’s going to be promotional.”

White said N Brown’s autumn clothing price rises is making it difficult to get cash-strapped consumers spending.

Rival home shopping boss Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of Shop Direct Group, has also seen erratic patterns and said the last month had been “rocky”.

The retailer, which posted a 5% sales rise over the Christmas period last year, expects growth to be “slimmer” this time round.

N Brown is in advanced discussions to sign five new locations for its Simply Be brand, which opened its first two physical stores over the past month.

The retailer expects to open stores in the Arndale Centre in Manchester Metrocentre in Gateshead, Teesside, Merryhill in Dudley and Doncaster next year.


Readers' comments (1)

  • Customers probably turned off by their immovable £3 late returns fee for goods received back more than 14 days from dispatch & snail like delivery.

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