N Brown Group has returned to profitability in the first half of 2019, despite a drop in revenue.
For the 26 weeks to 31 August, the group, which owns brands Simply Be, Jacamo, JD Williams and Ambrose Wilson, increased statutory operating profit to £14.7m – up from a £28.3m loss in the first half of 2018/19.
Its statutory profit before tax also rocketed 169.4% to £18.8m in the period from a £27.1m loss last year.
However, group revenue fell 5.4% to £432.9m, while overall net debt rose by 14.5% to £481.6m.
The group said it invested in both its men’s and women’s wear brands during the period, relaunched its social media strategy, and closed its international division and US marketing operation, thereby “removing an unprofitable part of [its] business”.
It said it will continue to focus on the UK, and plans to improve its customer experience, product offering, operation and working environment.
N Brown CEO Steve Johnson credited the company’s new strategy (implemented in May) for growing digital growth revenue across all brands, claiming 84% of total product revenue is now digital.
He added: “We announced our new strategy in May to return N Brown to sustainable profit growth and we have made good progress over the first half of the year.
“In particular, we have delivered on our strategy of growing digital revenue across Simply Be, JD Williams, Jacamo and Ambrose Wilson. This has been achieved by taking a more targeted approach to marketing and customer recruitment.
“The retail environment remains heavily promotional, but we are concentrating on continuing to improve our customer proposition and ensuring we operate as efficiently as possible, which has led to an increase of 4% in adjusted EBITDA for the period (to £54.1m).
“We remain focused on implementing our plans and the board’s full-year expectations are unchanged.”