N Brown shares rise as revenue tops £922m

Shares of Manchester-based fashion retailer N Brown Group — whose brands include JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo — rose about 6% after it said group revenue rose 3.9% to £922.2 million and adjusted profit before tax rose 1.3% to £81.6 million for the 52 weeks to March 3, 2018.

However, statutory profit before tax fell 71.9% to £16.2 million as “a result of exceptional costs of £56.9 million predominantly relating to customer redress for historic general insurance products and store closures, as previously announced.”

“Against a challenging market backdrop I am delighted to be reporting profit growth, with Simply Be the standout brand,” said N Brown Group CEO Angela Spindler.

“The second half was difficult for the fashion sector. 

“A good performance in financial services provided the group with resiliency to enable us to continue to invest in our customer offer, successfully driving revenue and market share growth.

“Our strategy continues to deliver results, with market share gains in the UK, USA revenue up 21% in the second half, new partnerships underway and almost three quarters of our revenues now coming online.

“March was a challenging month for fashion retail, however, trade is improving through April, and at this early stage in the new financial year our overall expectations are unchanged.”

Analysts at Peel Hunt, who have a “hold” rating on the firm, wrote: “N Brown’s results came in marginally ahead of market expectations, with guidance for the year ahead also consistent with consensus forecasts for next year.

“Current trading has been challenging, but on an improving trend, a point that reflects the wider apparel market and weather conditions, in our view.

“Trading on a PER of 9x and offering a secure yield of 7%, the shares should pick up on today’s results.

“We still think there’s downside risk to margins and we see a fairly protracted recovery process, but with no material threat to forecasts the valuation is far from challenging.”