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N Brown to extend its reach with more store openings

N Brown aims to open up to 25 stores in key UK locations to give the business a physical presence within a 45-minute drive of 85% of the population.

The plus-size specialist, which last week revealed strong growth in its first year under chief executive Angela Spindler, has grown its customer base to 7 million, of whom 4.5 million have placed an order in the last 12 months.

While the group is predominantly an online business – web sales account for 58% of its total and N Brown occupies the top market share position for plus-size menswear and womenswear online – Spindler said growing its physical presence for the Jacamo and Simply Be brands was a priority.

Seven stores will open this year, including an Oxford Street flagship in September, taking the total to 16. All stores will be dual fascia and have a multichannel focus, with in-store tablets and click-and-collect services.

The next phase of openings will be determined by location, Spindler said: “It’s about getting the right place. “If it takes two more years that is fine.”

N Brown is also forging ahead with its US plans. Sales in the year to March 1 rose 21% to £10m, thanks to improved customer service and marketing, as well as the introduction of a credit option.

This growth contributed to an overall sales increase of 6.4% to £834.9m, while like-for-likes grew 35%. Operating profit also climbed 4.7% to £107m, while pre-tax pro_ t rose 5.3%, taking it just over £100m for the first time, which Spindler described as “a real milestone”. Ecommerce revenues grew 9.1% to £463m.

For the year ahead, Spindler will be focusing her energies on plus-size clothing and footwear business JD Williams, which this year recorded a return to growth after years of declines.

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