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N Brown pre-tax profit falls as digital transformation continues

N Brown has reported a fall in statutory pre-tax profit of 7.8% to £72.2m for the year to February 27 as it continues its transition from a traditional mail-order business into a multichannel retailer.

JD Williams spring 16

JD Williams spring 16

On an underlying basis, pre-tax profit fell 2% over the year compared with 2014/15, but was up 11% during the second half.

Group revenue increased 3.5% to £866.2m during the period. Sales of product showed the fastest growth, at 4.1%, while the financial services business was up 2.1%.

Profits were hit by exceptional costs relating to the closure of clearance stores and reorganisation, and VAT-related legal and professional fees, it said.

It had net debt holding of £289.7m, up from £246.6m in 2015.

“It has been a very busy year for N Brown as we continue to transform the way we operate as a fashion retailer – from being mail-order led, to a business that puts digital first,” said chief executive Angela Spindler. “We are midway through this journey and are delighted to see the benefits coming through, importantly delivering 11% profit growth in the second half of the year.”

Online penetration increased 65% during the year and online revenues were up by 15% at the group, which includes JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo, as well as Fashion World, Marisota, Figleaves, High & Mighty and House of Bath.

N Brown is focused on its three “power brands” – JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo – and reported revenue increased by 10% year on year. Almost two-thirds of sales for these three brands are online, which Spindler said reflects N Brown’s digital focus.

Spindler added: “Looking forward, while we face challenging market conditions for the fashion sector overall, and trading since the year end has been subdued, we remain confident in our ability to make further progress this year.”

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