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May 18, 2022

N Brown reduces strategic brands portfolio

N Brown Group is reducing its stable of strategic brands to Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo with CEO Steve Johnson noting the digital clothing retailer is evolving its priorities to concentrate its growth focus where it sees the strongest market potential.

By Beth Wright

Reporting its full-year results for the 52 weeks to 26 February, N Brown says its strategic brands will be reduced to Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo, with Home Essentials and Ambrose Wilson to be consolidated within a “heritage brands” portfolio focused on protecting value. It adds no further closures are planned in the near future.

The move comes as the UK retailer is evolving its strategic transformation in a move that includes an evolved strategy to deliver growth through a simpler and more focused business.

“Focus on growth through three strategic brands (JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo), will allow us to boost simplicity and rigour of execution and deliver strong customer propositions and efficiency in our marketing,” N Brown says.

The news comes as the group reported a 1.8% decline in group revenue for the year to GBP715.7m (US$887.3m) from GBP728.8m a year prior. It pointed to a 0.6% reduction in product revenue and a 4% decrease in Financial Services revenue for the fall.

Excluding the impact from closing Figleaves in early FY22, product revenue grew by about 4%, with growth in strategic brands more than offsetting the managed decline in other heritage brands, it noted.

Strategic brands product revenue grew 9.9%, with N Brown adding the increase reflects the benefits of strategic change and strong clothing and footwear performance. Year-end active customers increased for the first time in four years, supported by the improved product offer and focused marketing.

Statutory profit before tax, meanwhile, surged by more than 108% to GBP19.2m from GBP9.2m a year prior.

“I am pleased with our continued progress in transforming N Brown into a more focused digital business, with a distinct and improving offer across our strategic brands. Our strategic brands returned to growth in the year with growing customer numbers. As we move forward, we are evolving our priorities to concentrate our growth focus on Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo, where we see the strongest market potential. We’re executing on our investment plans to unlock these opportunities including through new websites which will be rolled out progressively over the coming months,” Johnson says.

“The work we have done means we are significantly better placed than we were before the pandemic and, although cautious in the short-term due to inflationary impacts and consumer behaviour, we remain confident that over the medium-term our strategy will support the delivery of 7% product revenue growth with a 13% EBITDA margin.”

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