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How N Brown Group is focusing on digital to boost its profits

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Simply Be to Jacamo parent company N Brown Group today set out its progress as it focuses on digital and on the UK in order to return to sustainable profitability.

Overall, 84% of product revenue came from digital during the first half of its financial year – up from 80% a year earlier – with Simply Be (97.6%) and Jacamo (97.2%) almost entirely online. Digital revenues grew in both women and menswear – by a combined total of 5%. However, overall product brand revenue fell by 14.3% as the group managed the decline of its offline business, while digital revenue was down by 5.7%. While there was strong digital growth at brands including Oxendales (+21.6%) and Figleaves (+15.5%), the retail group is also seeing sales fall at House of Bath, Premier Man and High & Mighty.

N Brown Group reported group revenue of £432.9m in the six months to August 31, and down by 5.4% compared to the same time last year. Product sales of £282.3m were down by 9.3% on last time. Financial services revenues of £150.6m were up by 2.9%. The retailer posted a pre-tax profit of £18.8m – up by 169% on the same time last year, from a loss of £27.1m.

Chief executive Steve Johnson said the retailer had made good progress in the first half of the year as it focuses on the UK market and on digital. “In particular we have delivered on our strategy of growing digital revenue across Simply Be, JD Williams, Jacamo and Ambrose Wilson,” he said. “This has been achieved by taking a more targeted approach to marketing and customer recruitment. The retail strategy remains heavily promotional but we are concentrating on continuing to improve our customer proposition and ensuring we operate as efficiently as possible, which has led to an increase of 4% in adjusted EBITDA for the period. We remain focused on implementing our plans and the board’s full-year expectations are unchanged.”

Social media 

N Brown Group has also relaunched its social media strategy and says that results from steps such as relaunching the Jacamo feed with new content has generated good results. “This demonstrates the potential of social media channels as this is, increasingly, where our customers are engaging,” it said. It is selling third-party brands on its websites, including Seasalt and Joules on JD Williams and Tommy Hilfiger on Jacamo. 

Improving the customer experience

It has also adopted a new agile approach to customer experience improvements, with more than 125 members of staff working to streamline the digital user experience, delivering improvements such as changing size guides and improving the navigation structure on the Simply Be app. Investment is now focused on customer lifetime value. 

Operations and logistics

In November automated returns will launch at its Shaw warehouse. “This investment,” said N Brown Group, “will deliver benefits to the customer through faster refunds, better stock availability and improved presentation of items returned to stock. It will also deliver operational benefits, by removing 66% of receiving and sortation activity.”

Image courtesy of N Brown Group

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