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N Brown Group sales dip as its strategic brands – including Jacamo and Simply Be – grow more slowly than its legacy brands decline

Jacamo's new mobile-first website will launch next year. Image: N Brown Group

N Brown Group today reports a dip in sales as its strategic brands – including Jacamo and Simply Be – have grown more slowly than its legacy brands have declined.

N Brown Group says Jacamo, Simply Be and its other core strategic brands grew sales over a peak trading period in which it had strong product availability, having managed supply chain challenges well. Shoppers shifted to buy clothing and footwear (+18%) rather than home and gift sales (-19%) as the online homewares market remained softer than expected. The move away from previous pandemic behaviour resulted in rising return rates – since customers tend to return clothes and footwear more often – although returns remain three percentage points lower than before the pandemic.

The company now has more active customers (2.91m) than it did a year earlier (2.87m) – especially for Simply Be and Jacamo – having both won new customers and retained more existing ones.

Jacamo and Simply Be are both Top150 retailers in RXUK Top500 research. However, its legacy brands are declining faster through a strategy of managed decline, than its strategic brands are growing.

N Brown Group today reports third quarter sales of £267.6m. That’s 3.3% down on the same time last year. Product revenues in the 18 weeks to January 1 came in at £181.2m, were 3.5% down on last time. Sales of its strategic brands – JD Williams, Simply Be, Jacamo, Ambrose Wilson and Home Essentials – came in at £149m, 5.5% up on last time, while sales of its legacy brands, which are in managed decline, fell by 30.5% to £32.2m.

In the year to date, sales of £614.4m are 1.7% down on last time, with product revenues of £403.4m flat on last time. Strategic brand sales grew by 10.7% to £329.5m, while other brands declined by 30.1% to £73.9m.

N Brown chief executive Steve Johnson says: “The business has performed resiliently over the peak period and our colleagues have worked tirelessly to deliver for customers in challenging circumstances.

“Against the backdrop of Covid uncertainty, a volatile consumer environment and well-documented supply chain issues, the continued growth of our strategic brands has been particularly pleasing, as has a return to growth in active customers. We are now seeing more people than ever shopping with Simply Be and Jacamo. JD Williams is also resonating well with customers, particularly on the back of our successful partnerships with Amanda Holden and Davina McCall.

“We have continued to execute on our plan and, looking ahead, will continue our strategic investment to transform the business, supported by a robust balance sheet and a strengthened executive team.”

In November, N Brown Group appointed Nuno Miller, previously at Sonae Fashion, to lead its digital transformation as digital chief operating officer.

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