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N Brown Group says online customer demand is getting back to more normal patterns in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions – but warns it expects costs including freight prices to stay high

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

Jacamo and Simply Be owner N Brown Group says it is seeing online customer demand get back to more normal patterns as retail moves beyond Covid-19 pandemic restrictions – with demand for clothing rising once more online while homewares sales are softening.

However, the value to fashion homewares group says that it expects its costs to continue to rise in 2023, including freight rates, which it had previously expected to return to more normal levels. It expects inflation to mean its wider costs rise at the same time. It plans “management actions… across all areas to mitigate the effect of these pressures” but nonetheless expects that there will be an increase in the ratio of costs to sales in the coming financial year. It says it will invest in both homewares and clothing products over the coming year. It recently announced that JD Williams would soon stock Mango, Whistles, and Phase Eight clothing for the first time. This is part of its strategy to “expand and improve its brand and product propositions for customers”

and comes as shoppers return to buying clothing, where its sales have returned to growth.

The value fashion to homewares group says in a year-end trading statement today that it expects that revenues from its five strategic brands – which include JD Williams, Jacamo, Simply Be and Home Essentials – have grown about 9% in the year to February 27, while total active customers have grown by 3% to 2.9m. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax and asset write downs (EBITDA) are expected to come in at between £93m and £96m.

N Brown Group chief executive Steve Johnson says: “I am pleased with the progress which we continue to make and despite the volatile backdrop our expected full year numbers remain in line with previous guidance. It’s encouraging to see full year customer numbers return to growth and to be closing the year with a strong balance sheet.

“We enter the new financial year with continued confidence in our proposition. We are not immune to the supply chain and inflationary cost pressures being seen across the wider market, however, we continue to take proactive actions to offset these and mitigate the impact on our FY23 performance.”

Manchester-based N Brown Group sells online through five strategic brands and is managing the decline of its other brands, including the closure of the Figleaves brand website just over a year ago. Simply Be is a Top100 retailer in RXUK Top500 research, while JD Williams and Jacamo are ranked Top150.

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