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How the high street helped N Brown Group sell more online

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N Brown Group today explained how stores had helped boost its online sales as it announced plans for more openings, including a flagship Simply Be and Jacamo on London’s Oxford Street.

The retailer, whose brands also include JD Williams, Figleaves and Julipa, has in recent years experimented with moving previously online brands onto the high street. Today, as it reported full year results, it said it was moving towards its target of 25 stores for its Simply Be and Jacamo plus-size brands, which would include a store on a London prime shopping street.

N Brown Group today unveiled total revenue of £834.9m in the year to March 1, up by 6.4% compared with the previous year. Like-for-like sales grew by 6.3%, while pre-tax profits rose by 0.9% to £97.3m. They were held back by £6.2m losses from investment in areas including international trading and the Simply Be/Jacamo stores: operating profit was up by 4.7% at £107m.

Ecommerce sales rose by 9.1% to £463m, and now account for 58% of sales. Some 40% of all online sessions now come through mobile devices. The company said the fastest growth had come from male and younger female shoppers, segments that delivered, respectively, £23m and £16m of revenue growth.

But growth has also come through its stores. Like-for-like sales from more mature Simply Be/Jacamo stores were up by 35%. So far there are nine such stores, and the company plans to roll out seven more by October.

The stores, said N Brown, were helping to build brand awareness and were also boosting online sales. It pointed to an online ‘halo’ effect: online sales are 7% higher in the 45-minute drivetime area around Simply Be stores, and 3% higher around Jacamo stores, compared to areas without a store.

Angela Spindler, chief executive, delivering her first set of full-year results in the job, said: “I am delighted that the team has continued to deliver solid growth, whilst preparing for a more ambitious future. The group has maintained momentum across our multichannel offering in terms of both stores and online, growing the customer base and continuing our progress in the USA.

“We are particularly encouraged by the strong performances from our younger titles, primarily driven by Simply Be and Jacamo, and have continued to focus on revitalising our core brand of JD Williams which remains key to achieving our future growth ambitions.”

N Brown Group chairman Andrew Higginson said the year had been a ‘robust’ one for the group. “We are investing in the future development of our multichannel offer,” he said, “increasing customer recruitment, revitalizing our major brands and driving international expansion for future growth.

“We are encouraged by the positive signs from these strategic initiatives and we are confident these trends will continue.”

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