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N Brown to close five stores

N Brown Group has announced it will close up to five loss-making Simply Be and Jacamo dual-fascia stores, including its Oxford Street flagship, at a cost of between £10m and £14m.

The firm, which opened its first physical stores for the two businesses in 2011, will be closing a third of its 15 dual-fascia stores before the end of August, at a cost of up to £14m. The decision was made as a result of “weak high street footfall and significant future business rates increases.”

The five stores, of which the location of one has been confirmed, contributed £5m revenue but accounted for the £2m operating loss of the business’s store estate. The business is currently consulting with staff effected. 

N Brown said it will continue to improve the performance of the remaining 10 duel fascia stores.

Group revenue at N Brown increased 6% during the first quarter. Womenswear performed well in the 13 weeks to 3 June, with product revenue up 10% on the same period last year.

Online sales at the business were up 16% year on year and now account for 71% of total revenue. Smartphones accounted for 51% of all traffic, up from 42% last year. Mobile devices as a whole now account for 74% of all online sales.

International revenue was up 10%, and down 2% in constant currency terms. Revenue from Ireland was up 17%, and 9% in constant currency terms, driven by a strong womenswear performance.

Revenue from the US was up 4%, and down 9% on a constant currency basis.

Sales from N Brown’s financial services business were down 5% year on year, in line with expectations.

Angela Spindler, CEO, said: “Womenswear and Simply Be in particular had a very strong period, with good responses to our spring campaigns, leading to further market share gains.

“As a result of ongoing weak footfall in some locations, and with a clear focus on driving financial returns across all areas of our business, we will be closing up to five loss-making stores.

“Although the outlook for consumer confidence remains uncertain, our offering is resonating with customers. At this early stage in the financial year, trading is on track to meet our expectations. We continue to invest in our customer proposition and remain very confident in our future growth prospects.”

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