Jacamo and Simply Be sparkle for N Brown

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THERE may have been a change at the top but plus-size clothing retailer N Brown continued to be one of the star performers of the retail sector over Christmas.

The multi-channel group, which owns brands such as Simply Be, Jacamo, High & Mighty, figleaves and JD Williams, said in the six weeks to January 11 like-for-like sales were up 7.2%.

The Manchester-based group said sales in the 19 weeks to January 11 was up 5.2%, including like-for-like growth of 5.1%.

Chief executive Angela Spindler, who replaced the long-serving Alan White last year, said: “N Brown has continued to deliver robust, reliable growth whilst stepping up investment in our multi-channel, international future. angela spindler

“Having been with the business now for six months, I am even more convinced of its substantial long-term growth potential.  We are applying the group’s unique skills in larger size fashion through a range of increasingly distinctive, relevant, contemporary brands across a broader base of customers and channels.  We are only at the start of grasping this opportunity.”

Continuing recent trends, the group’s star performers were the younger-focused brands with good growth in Simply Be and “excellent growth” in menswear brand Jacamo.

There was also a strong performance in the home categories driven by homewares and family gifts.

While menswear and footwear categories performed well, growth in ladieswear slowed in October and early November, due to the mild autumn, before picking-up over Christmas.

N Brown said the rate of gross margin was “a little below our expectations due to markdown activity”, but results forecast for the full year to March 1  remain in line with expectations.

Online buying now accounts for 58% of revenue, the group said. A number of service improvements for customers were introduced over the period including a roll-out of Click and Collect across the group’s own stores plus 3,500 parcel shops located all across the UK.

In addition shoppers were able to place orders up to 7pm on December 23 for delivery before Christmas. The next day service accounted for 40% of demand in the Christmas week

The company said it expects further online growth and is planning to further improve customers’ online experience, build the usage of click & collect for order fulfilment and shorten customer order lead times still further.

It added the performance of its seven stores, which will be expanded to a chain of around 25 units in major shopping locations, had been “very encouraging”.

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