Improvements in revenues and margins helped home shopping company N Brown Group to a first-half profit before tax (PBT) of £44.8 million, according to results released today.
PBT for the group, which owns brands such as Figleaves and Simply Be, was up 5.9 per cent in the 26 weeks ending August 27th 2011, whilst total revenues grew by four per cent and operating profit climbed 1.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.
E-commerce sales showed particular strength, rising 17 per cent in the half to £175 million, and profitability was also aided by a continued rise in gross margin of 1.2 per cent to end the period at 54.9 per cent.
Alan White, CEO of N Brown, commented: “We have delivered a solid performance for the first half, driven primarily by increased online penetration and our younger titles.
“We are encouraged by the performance of our menswear catalogues, particularly Jacamo which recorded 66 per cent sales growth, by the positive response that we have had in the US with Simply Be, and excited by the launch of our two new stores.”
Along with the first Simply Be stores in Liverpool and Bury, High & Mighty also opened two new units in Watford and Exeter during the period, making 19 outlets in total now for the brand.
Despite this solid performance in the six months to August, trading during the six weeks to October 8th was more difficult and group like-for-like sales actually fell 1.5 per cent year-on-year.
White continued: “Looking forward, in the short term we expect the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook to continue to impact consumer sentiment, which is demonstrated by the extremely volatile shopping patterns we have experienced in the first few weeks of the second half.
“However, we believe that our strategy to invest in the development of our brands, both nationally and internationally, the improvement of our online capability and the flexibility of our business model will mean we are well positioned for the future.”
Interim dividend ended at 5.29p per share, up five per cent, but adjusted earnings per share were down 0.4 per cent to 12.10p in the half.