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N Brown targets Germany

Home shopping giant N Brown is planning to secure 10% of its total sales from international markets in the next three years, following the launch of its plus-size brand Simply Be in Germany next month.

It is launching the brand in Germany with an investment of about £1 million. N Brown chief executive Alan White said: “It is a big strategic development but we are confident to push on with our international plans. The first half of the year will be about testing the systems, to make sure it works for the customer.”

The company is also set to open up its English language website to a number of other European markets.

The home shopping group posted a like-for-like sales uplift of 8.8% in the 19 weeks to January 10, boosted by strong demand across all product categories. Online sales soared 34% over the period, and now account for 35% of total sales.

However,  N Brown said that gross margin over the business fell by 1.5% over the period, due to an increase in bad debts from customers.

White put the strong sales down to the company’s unique proposition. He said: “The average age of our customer is 57, and they are more resilient in the current climate. We are also a size specialist and our product USP is not affected so much by discounting on the high street. Our websites have also been getting better and better. I am looking to grow in 2009, but at a more modest level.”

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