UK: N Brown to expand after "robust" Christmas growth
Internet and catalogue retailer N Brown has unveiled international expansion plans after reporting "robust" sales growth during the Christmas trading period.
The UK home shopping business today (16 January) said like-for-like revenue grew 7.2 % during the six-week Christmas and New Year trading period to 11 January.
During the 19 weeks to 11 January, total group revenue increased by 5.2%, with like-for-like sales up 5.1%.
The strongest sales performance, N Brown said, came from its younger brands Jacamo and Simply Be. Its men's wear and footwear categories also performed well.
Women's wear growth, however, slowed in October and early November, impacted by the unusually mild temperatures, but performed well over Christmas.
The rate of gross margin was "a little below" its expectations due to markdown activity, which the group said has delivered a clean stock position going into 2014.
Online sales continued to grow and now account for 58% of revenue. N Brown said its store performance was "encouraging", with the seven established stores posting like-for-like revenue growth of 34%.
The company intends to step up investment to grow the business outside its core UK home shopping operation, including new stores and international expansion.
"Having been with the business now for six months, I am even more convinced of its substantial long-term growth potential," said CEO Angela Spindler.
"We are applying the group's unique skills in larger size fashion through a range of increasingly distinctive, relevant, contemporary brands across a broader base of customers and channels. We are only at the start of grasping this opportunity."
Commenting on the results, Shore Capital analyst Clive Black described N Brown as a "business that is more profitable than Asos" and "better positioned for meaningful online internationalisation in apparel than many of its UK peers such as Debenhams and Marks & Spencer".
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