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N Brown profits rise

N Brown’s underlying profit-before-tax rose 11.3% to £82.7m for the year to February 28, as like-for-like sales rose 10.7% to £662.5m over the period.

Home shopping group N Brown said that fastest growth was in the younger sector which saw sales up 21% to £200m, including a 23% sales increase of the Simply Be brand which was the star performer.

Sales at brands aimed at 45-plus customers including JD Williams, rose 7% to £406m over the year, while labels aimed at the 65-plus market saw sales rise 6% to £56m.

N Brown’s, newer brands, including contemporary womenswear brand Marisota and plus size menswear label Jacamo, accounted for 36%of the total sales growth.

N Brown’s online sales rose 38% over the period to £225m, with sales via the internet now account for 34% of all sales.

Overall, before adjusting for a £9.6m fair adjustment to financial instruments, N Brown’s profit before tax rose 21.3% to £92.3m.

Net borrowings increased £18.9m to £218.3m over the period. Gross margin dropped from 55.3% to 53.2% impacted by higher charges for bad debts from the group’s suppliers.

However, sales growth since the end of February has slowed, with like-for-likes ups 6.1% for the eight weeks to April 25.

N Brown said the outlook was “challenging” as the recession started to impact, and the sterling continued to devalue putting pressure on N Brown’s costs.

However, N Brown chief executive Alan White said: “We are encouraged by our performance over the first eight weeks to April 25. While the outlook remains uncertain, we believe that the strength of our customer base and focused product propositions means we are well-positioned to continue to further increase our market share. We will continue to capitalise on growth opportunities generated from the further development of our core brands, e-commerce strategy and the flexibility of our business model, as well as expanding our international trials.”


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