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Online growth drives N Brown's sales up 4%

Multichannel retailer N Brown’s group revenue grew by 4.1% year on year in the 18 weeks to January 2, with like-for-likes up 4.1%.

Simply be aw15 advert

Simply be aw15 advert

Simply Be’s autumn 15 advert

Product revenue was up 4.3%, while its income from financial services rose 3.7%. Online sales rose 13%.

However, sales across N Brown’s 15 stores - most of which are Simply Be and Jacamo dual fascia - were disappointing, with sales flat on a like-for-like basis.

In line with the wider retail sector, footfall was weaker, and N Brown said this was the primary cause of the muted store sales performance. “We continue to focus on the ongoing efficiency and profitability of our store estate,” the company said.

All three of its “power brands”, Simply Be, Jacamo and JD Williams, recorded double-digit year-on-year growth. N Brown said its autumn ranges, particularly Simply Be Unique and Coast, were “very well received” by customers.

However, as highlighted in its half year results, there remains a “notable divergence in performance” between the core JD Williams brand, which has been modernised, and the more traditional brands in its segment, Ambrose Wilson and Fifty Plus. These saw revenue declines in the high single-digits.

The company said it was focused on stabilising their performance by improving their marketing programmes and articulating the product offering more clearly to customers.

Overall product gross margin guidance range has been adjusted down to between -75 basis points and flat from between -25bps and +50bps. The financial services gross margin guidance range has improved to -100 basis points and flat from -300bps to -200bps. All other guidance remains unchanged.

N Brown chief executive Angela Spindler said: “We are pleased with our performance in Q3, during which we saw clear evidence of the benefits of the way in which we are transforming the business.

“After the well-documented difficult start to the season for our sector, our more agile approach enabled us to trade the business well and we delivered particularly good results over the cyber weekend and in the weeks that followed.

“This was driven by our improved product offering, which continues to gain traction with customers, together with our new digital marketing initiatives.

“Simply Be and Jacamo continue to show strong growth, and the potential of these brands is significant.

“We are also very pleased with the double-digit revenue growth in the JD Williams brand which is testament to the hard work over the past few years, and we are excited about the further potential of the online 50-plus fashion market.

“Our digital-first strategy has continued to make good progress and I am encouraged by the transformation underway in the business. We are on track to meet full year expectations, and we move into 2016 with real energy and confidence in our future.”

The retailer will announce its full year results on April 20.

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