Simply Be saw sales rise 10% in the first six months of the year

Simply Be saw sales rise 10% in the first six months of the year

Internet and catalogue retailer N Brown Group says it remains on track to deliver its full-year forecasts, despite a "mellow" first-half performance as it implements its long-term growth strategy.

In a trading update today (16 September), the company said group revenues edged down 0.6% in the 26 weeks to 30 August, with like-for-like sales slipping 0.5%.

Sales at Simply Be and Jacamo rose 4% and 10% respectively, but this performance was offset by a 3% decline at the JD Williams brand.

The group's overall active customer base increased by 3.7%, N Brown said, adding that demand for its products in the US was up 16%.

It noted that its "transitional year" is progressing well, and its programme of change has "gathered pace" during the first half as it implements a long-term growth strategy laid out in February.

The most significant changes include a reduction in the number of catalogues produced, alterations to the promotional calendar, and fewer non-core ranges in gifts and electrical items.

CEO Angela Spindler said: "I am pleased with progress so far; the team is implementing the plan effectively, delivering our differentiated offer for customers and continuing N Brown's record of strong financial performance."

She added that the group remains on track to deliver its full-year forecast.

Shore Capital Stockbrokers Darren Shirley said the latest results confirm another quite "mellow" trading period for N Brown.

Conlumino analyst Neil Saunders added that although the headline numbers are "not as robust" as they usually are, the company is in a period of "necessary" transition. "This change will ultimately create a platform for stronger future growth. All signs point to a healthier second half," he added.