N Brown says turnaround is bearing fruit despite sales fall

Fashion retailer N Brown has reported further sales declines, but said its turnaround strategy is bearing fruit in challenging markets as online sales rose.

N Brown said its brands bring fashion to all, regardless of size

The group said total revenue fell 3.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to June 1, dragged lower by a 5.4 per cent fall in product sales from the managed decline of its traditional mail order business.

Its shift away from legacy catalogue brands saw online sales rise 3 per cent in its first quarter, with 83 per cent of total revenue now digital.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

N Brown said online sales of its womenswear brands JD Williams and Simply Be rose 5.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively, with a 10.1 per centsurge for Ambrose Wilson.Online sales of womenswear rose 5.7 per cent and menswear increased 8.8 per cent.

Product brands revenue fell 12.7 per cent in the quarter, but N Brown said this was in line with its strategy to scale back unprofitable offline marketing and recruitment.The figures showed financial services revenues rose 8 per cent in the quarter.

Steve Johnson, chief executive of N Brown, said: "We're pleased to report a solid trading performance in the first quarter."In line with our strategy, we delivered digital revenue growth across JD Williams, Simply Be, Ambrose Wilson and Jacamo as we continue to improve our customer offer whilst managing the decline of our legacy offline business."The retail market remains challenging, but we have a clear strategy to deliver profitable digital growth and our full-year expectations are unchanged."

Analyst Darren Shirley at Shore Capital said: "N Brown’s first quarter trading update contains no surprises in our view and represents a solid start to the year.

"A decline in product sales of 5.4 per cent is broadly as expected and reflective of a strategic focus on profitable sales, with the acceleration of the customer migration to online evident in digital product growth of 3.0 per cent.