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N Brown's fast fashion debuts online

Home shopping retailer N Brown has made its first foray into fast fashion via a new website, as it celebrates record full-year results.

Chief executive Alan White said Newnow.co.uk, which launched last week, will allow the predominantly book-based retailer to better react to trends.

"It means we can stock styles that the catalogues may have missed," said White, citing spring 07's 1960s-style swing coat as an example.

Newnow's ranges will be updated every two months, and will be sourced from the UK, Turkey and India. The most successful lines will be included in catalogues once they have been tested online.

Home shopping rival Littlewoods launched an online womenswear cat-walk last month to showcase its fast-fashion offer Love Label, which has a lead time of six weeks. (Drapers, April 28).

White added that N Brown had "a couple of projects" under way to launch new catalogue brands aimed at its younger customer group in autumn 07, but remained tight-lipped about the details.

The business reported record operating profits and turnover in its preliminary results on Wednesday. Group sales rose 13.9% to £533.8 million, while operating profit was up 26.5% to £76.4m for the year to February 24. Pre-tax profits rose 20.9% to £65.4m.

Online sales climbed 51% to £112m to account for 22% of total sales, compared with 16% the previous year.

N Brown plans to expand its product offer by 20% across all its catalogue brands in 2008.

It aims to capitalise on the over-40s market, which it currently serves through brands such as upmarket womenswear label Gray & Osbourn.

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