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Online flexibility helps N Brown win back sales

N Brown has said a more flexible approach to the products stocked online helped it recover sales lost during the warm autumn weather.

The mild weather in September caused sales to decline by 10.8% during the month, but it returned to growth in October and November, when sales were up 1.5% and 3% respectively. Overall sales dropped 2.3% during the 13 weeks to November 29.

Chief executive Angela Spindler told Drapers: “In October we shifted away from the full-price autumn fashion towards more transitional pieces and Sale items which created a higher level of responses. We can’t change our catalogues, but online we can target our customers with more relevant product.”

Online sales for the quarter increased to 60% of total sales, up from 57%, as further improvements were made to the website.

Spindler added: “Our software is now responsive and allows us to personalise our emails and target customers. We have also changed the site so people can buy with their debit and credit cards without registering.”

The group opened its dual-fascia Simply Be and Jacamo store on Oxford Street in September, followed by openings in Edinburgh, Merry Hill in Dudley, and Norwich during October and November.

The business has 16 stores, with another eight in the pipeline over the next 18 months. Spindler declined to give locations. N Brown hopes to take the total number of stores to 25, although did not reveal a time frame.

N Brown said it expected the trading environment to remain “extremely competitive” from now until the end of its financial year, so despite progress made during the quarter, its profit before tax guidance for the year remains unchanged at £88m to £92m.

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