N Brown Group said today that its online revenue had grown by 15% to £424m in its latest financial year, and now accounted for 55% of its total home shopping revenues.
More than a quarter (26%) of its online visitors and 23% of its online sales now came via mobile devices, the home shopping specialist, whose brands include Simply Be, Jacamo, High & Mighty and Figleaves, said. “There is much evidence that the older consumer is adapting to tablet computers at a fast rate, which will help accelerate the switch from paper to digital media in the coming years,” said chief executive Alan White.
The update came as N Brown Group reported a 6% boost to total group revenue, which came in at £784.7m in the year to March 2. Pre-tax profits in the 52 weeks rose by 2.6% to £96.4m, compared to the same period last year.
The company aims to become a fully multichannel retailer – with the store network that that implies. Having tested stores for its Simply Be brand in recent years, it opened a further five of the concept stores over the year. And while these outlets were as yet loss-making, N Brown Group anticipates opening a “limited number” in high footfall areas in future after evaluating both direct sales from the stores and their halo effect on online sales. Such stores, said chairman Andrew Higginson, “have the potential to be significant growth drivers in the medium term, although they reduce profits in the short-term.”
The company is also growing through new dedicated websites for Marisota and Jacamo in the US. The launches come after a year in which international sales hit £30.2m, but delivered losses of £1.9m. Simply Be’s US sales grew by 75% to £8.4m, and the company expects to break even in Germany next year, where marketing is now entirely online. Figleaves, said its owners, now takes 22% of its total sales of £24.7m from overseas, with the US its principle international market.
Delivering his last set of results as chief executive of N Brown Group, Alan White said: “It is hard to believe that the business I joined in 1985 with sales of £42m could have delivered these results today.”