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N Brown e-commerce sales outperform stores

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N Brown, the British home shopping business aimed at “plus-size and more mature” customers, says online orders now account for 66% of its sales. The rest are a result of the catalogue business.

E-commerce sales rose 13% in the 18 weeks to 2 January. N Brown said three quarters of new customer demand was generated online during this period, whilst 68% of website traffic came from mobile phones.

The retail group, whose brands include Figleaves, Simply Be and Jacamo, posted sales growth of 4.1% in the period, but high street stores are not trading as well.

“Stores remain a small part of the group overall, their performance was disappointing, with sales flat on a LFL basis year-on-year,” read the statement on Thursday morning, which also blamed “weaker” footfall as the primary cause.

 “We continue to focus on the ongoing efficiency and profitability of our store estate.”

N Brown issued two profit warnings last year, but on Thursday said that margins in the finance unit were not deteriorating as much as expected.

N Brown's biggest brand, JD Williams, achieved double-digit revenue growth. The driving force was an improved product offering, as well as strong PR activity at the Manchester-based business’s first digital autumn/winter marketing campaigns.

“We are pleased with our performance in the third quarter, during which we saw clear evidence of the benefits of the way in which we are transforming the business,” said Chief Exec Angela Spindler.

“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.

“Our digital-first strategy has continued to make good progress and I am encouraged by the transformation underway in the business.”

Published on Thursday 21 January by Veebs Sabharwal

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