N Brown revenue falls to £858m, but Q1 improves

Manchester-based fashion retailer N Brown Group said its revenue fell 6.1% to £858.2 million in the 52 weeks to February 29 and adjusted profit before tax slumped 28.8% to £59.5 million.

In the first quarter of its current financial year, N Brown’s revenue is down 22%, but the firm said: “Trading has continued to improve from the sudden and significant decline experienced in March.”

N Brown’s brands include JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo. About 91% of the group’s sales are now digital.

As at June 19, N Brown’s net debt was down 9.9% from year-end to £447.9 million.

N Brown CEO Steve Johnson said: “The business has responded strongly to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak, highlighting our resilience as a business and I thank every single one of our colleagues who have worked so hard to keep us operational, with safety and our customers in the front of their minds. 

“The crisis will cast a lasting shadow over the sector, but we are confident that our agile approach and attractive brand offerings, with clear target customer segments, position us well to navigate the issues and emerge as a stronger business.

“In a year of restructuring for the Group, Simply Be, JD Williams, Jacamo and Ambrose Wilson all grew digital revenue and following further progress in the first quarter of this financial year, 91% of our product revenue now comes from digital channels.

“The retail environment remains heavily promotional and the regulatory challenges in financial services have required us to adapt and evolve our offer, but our commitment to driving operating efficiencies is creating the right platform for the future.

“Trading in the first quarter of this financial year was impacted by Covid-19 but sales in recent weeks have shown an improving trajectory and cash collections have been stable. 

“Operating costs are significantly lower than last year and net debt has decreased.

“As we move forward, we have refreshed our strategy, evolved our key pillars of growth and are pushing on with further work to streamline our brand portfolio, improve our product, create a brand new Home proposition whilst improving our digital capabilities and developing our financial services offer. 

“Challenges remain in the year ahead, but we are focused on accelerating the business and are confident we are taking the right actions to create a sustainable, profitable business for the long term which has the potential to generate significant value.”