Manchester fashion firm N Brown may close all stores

Manchester-based fashion retailer N Brown Group — whose brands include JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo — said on Thursday it has begun a review of whether it should close all of its 20 stores as the UK’s high street gloom continues.

In a trading update covering the 13-week period to June 2, 2018, N Brown Group said 75% of its total revenue is now generated online, and is 84% for new customers.

The firm, which specialises in clothing for plus-size and “more mature” customers, said group revenue edged 0.4% higher during the period and product revenue fell 2.8%. International revenue was down 8%.

On it stores, N Brown Group said: “We are focused on becoming a global online retailer.

“Reflecting this strategy, we have undertaken a review of our store estate.

“Given continued very disappointing footfall, and despite significant cost efficiencies being achieved, we are today entering into a consultation with store colleagues to consider closing our 20 stores ahead of lease expiry.

“In FY18 these stores generated £15m revenue (2% of group revenue) and an EBITDA loss of £3m.

 “We anticipate that the consultation process will be completed around the time of our half year results in October.

“Should the decision be taken to close all 20 stores, we anticipate an exceptional cost of £18m to £22m, of which approximately half will be in cash.”

N Brown Group Angela Spindler said: “As highlighted in our full year results, this was a challenging period for fashion retail.

“Against this backdrop and a double-digit comparative in product revenue, I am satisfied with our Q1 performance.

“At this early stage in the financial year our full year expectations are unchanged.

“In line with our online strategy, and given continued weak high street footfall, we have today commenced a consultation process with colleagues over the future of our small store estate.

“This action has not been taken lightly and we will do all we can to support the colleagues affected during this process.

“We continue at pace our journey to become a global online retailer, uniquely delivering fashion that fits.

“This will underpin our future growth, both in the UK and Internationally.”