Online, catalogue and stores retailer N Brown has reaffirmed its full-year guidance as it revealed first-quarter results that were in line with company expectations. 

For the three months ended 28 May, group revenues dropped 0.2%, while product revenues fell 1.6%. Online sales, however, grew 6% as the company continued to see an increase in online penetration, which was up five percentage points year-on-year to 67%.

This week, N Brown partnered with intranet experts Interact to drive its digital internal communications strategy as the next step in the company's transformation from direct mail-led to digital-first retailer.

N Brown takes another step towards digital-first retail

Within the group's power brands, Simply Be and Jacamo sales were both up year-on-year, driven by ongoing product improvements and new season campaigns. The JD Williams brand saw double-digit growth, although revenues for JD Williams as a whole were slightly down due to a weak performance from the Fifty Plus title.

The group's traditional segment - Julipa, Ambrose Wilson, Premier Man and House of Bath -  saw a mid single-digit decline in product revenues.

"Overall trading in the quarter has been in line with our expectations and our guidance for the full year remains unchanged," said CEO Angela Spindler. "Product sales have been satisfactory when viewed against the challenging market backdrop.
"Our three Power Brands, JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo, continue to outperform the wider group. Revenue from our traditional segment has continued to decline, but remedial actions are now well underway."

Kate Ormrod, senior analyst at Verdict Retail, believes challenging market conditions, waning consumer confidence and weather-related sales volatility have been detrimental to growth for N Brown, especially in footwear and womenswear.

Nonetheless, she adds: "The investment, its focus on a digital-first strategy, and improvements to its product proposition will position the business well for long-term growth."