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N Brown Group and Halfords report strong Cyber Weekend trading

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N Brown Group and Halfords today both hailed strong Cyber Weekend performances in updates on Christmas trading.

N Brown Group reported double digit growth in online sales, as it said its strategy of transformation into a digital-first business was making good progress.

Some 66% of sales at the home entertainment group, whose brands include Figleaves, Simply Be and Jacomo, took place online in the third quarter of its current financial year – up from 61% at the same time last year. Online sales grew by 13% during the period, the 18 weeks to January 2, compared to the same time in the previous year, while 75% of new customer demand was generated online during the period. Some 68% of all online traffic came via mobile devices, 10 percentage points up on last time.

The update came as N Brown Group reported group revenue up by 4.1%, a figure that remained the same on a like-for-like basis, and the company said it was on track to meet full year expectations. Among its brands, the digital-led Simply Be and Jacamo labels both recorded double-digit year-on-year growth, while JD Williams “performed well, with revenue up double-digit year-on-year.”

Chief executive Angela Spindler said the company had seen “clear evidence” of the benefits of its transformation strategy.

“After the well-documented difficult start to the season for our sector, our more agile approach enabled us to trade the business well and we delivered particularly good results over the cyber weekend and in the weeks that followed,” she said. “This was driven by our improved product offering, which continues to gain traction with customers, together with our new digital marketing initiatives.

“Simply Be and Jacamo continue to show strong growth, and the potential of these brands is significant. We are also very pleased with the double-digit revenue growth in the JD Williams brand which is testament to the hard work over the past few years, and we are excited about the further potential of the online 50-plus fashion market.

“Our digital-first strategy has continued to make good progress and I am encouraged by the transformation underway in the business. We are on track to meet full year expectations, and we move into 2016 with real energy and confidence in our future.”

Meanwhile, Halfords said it had enjoyed a “record” day online on Black Friday, while total sales hit their own record on December 23. But retail sales were down by 0.3% in the third quarter, to January 15, although up by 0.8% in the year to that date. Third growth of 4.1% in its autocentres business took third-quarter trading up by 0.4%.

Chief executive Jill McDonald said: “We are pleased with the group’s performance, given the unprecedented weather conditions. Particularly pleasing was the strong growth in service-related sales and a return to LFL growth in cycling. We achieved a record day online over the Black Friday weekend, our highest ever day for total sales on 23rd December and further improvements in customer service metrics.”

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