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N Brown earns plaudits for global growth strategy

Analysts have praised N Brown Group’s expansion plans, heralding the decision to accept cash customers instead of credit-only transactions as a “game changer”.

The business, which owns plus-size retailers Simply Be and Jacamo and lingerie etailer Figleaves, hosted a Capital Markets Day at the end of last month during which chief executive Angela Spindler talked through its growth strategy.

These include plans to increase the group’s online business from 58% of total sales to 70% by 2017, as well as developing a more contemporary look for its collections and websites in a bid to become a global market leader for clothing “regardless of size”.

N Brown also revealed that after three years of testing the water in the US, “the largest plus-size market in the world”, it is now aiming for sales of $100m (£60m) in the country by 2020.

International sales currently make up 9% of revenues, but the business aims to expand this to 30% within five years.

Investec retail analyst Kate Calvert said: “N Brown is poised to deliver a step change in growth from the 2015 financial year with the potential to become a sustainable double-digit growth story.”

Calvert added that the decision to accept cash customers – who can pay at once, rather than in instalments– rather than solely accepting credit was a “real game changer”. The business launched the new payment option across several of its sites last month and will roll this out to all its others later this year.

The international expansion plans were also praised, particularly its spotlight on the US. Independent analyst Nick Bubb noted “the big market out there for N Brown’s target demographic”.

However, Cantor Fitzgerald investment analyst Freddie George was moresceptical, claiming that N Brown had failed to deliver on promises of strong growth in the past.

“There are a lot of initiatives which aren’t game-changing and I’m not sure whether this is just it catching up with its contemporaries, but I am sure this will serve it well,” he said.

In January, N Brown revealed that like-for-like sales had risen 7.2% in the six weeks to January 11. Over the 19 weeks to the same date, group revenue rose 5.2%, with like-for-likes up 5.1%.

N Brown Group was unavailable for comment.

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