• H1 pre-tax profit up 5.9% to GBP44.8m
  • Revenue rises 4% to GBP363.7m
  • E-commerce sales up 17% to GBP175m

Internet and catalogue home shopping retailer N Brown Group posted a “solid” 6% rise in first half pre-tax profit, buoyed by higher sales and a 1.2% increase in gross margin.

International revenues from the company’s Simply Be brand soared 173.3% off a small base to GBP4.1m (US$6.4m), but like-for-like sales for the six weeks to 8 October declined 1.5%.

“We have delivered a solid performance for the first half, driven primarily by increased online penetration and our younger titles,” said chief executive Alan White.

“We are encouraged by the performance of our men’s wear catalogues, particularly Jacamo which recorded 66% sales growth, by the positive response that we have had in the US with Simply Be, and excited by the launch of our two new stores.”

But White added that economic uncertainty was likely to impact consumer sentiment in the short term – demonstrated by the “extremely volatile” shopping patterns seen in the first few weeks of the second half of the fiscal year.