N Brown is entering into redundancy consultations with around 250 staff following falling sales in its first quarter.

Around 240 jobs are at risk in-store with 15 head office jobs and 35 distribution roles also affected. N Brown operates 20 stores nationwide.

The retailer’s first-quarter performance was boosted by its financial services arm as its product sales dipped.

Product revenue dropped 2.8% while financial services revenue increased by 9%. Total group revenue rose 0.4%.

Product revenue also dropped in the fourth quarter of N Brown’s last financial year, although it grew for the remaining three quarters. 

Chief executive Angela Spindler said: “As highlighted in our full-year results, this was a challenging period for  fashion retail. Against this backdrop and a double-digit comparative in product revenue, I am satisfied with our performance. At this early stage in the financial year our full-year expectations are unchanged.

“In line with our online strategy, and given continued weak high street footfall, we have today commenced a consultation process with colleagues over the future of our small store estate. This action has not been taken lightly and we will do all we can to support the colleagues affected during this process.

“We continue at pace our journey to become a global online retailer, uniquely delivering fashion that fits. This will underpin our future growth, both in the UK and internationally.”

Power brands

N Brown operates three ‘power brands’ which account for the majority of its growth: JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo. Power-brand growth stood at 2.7%, dragged down by a negative performance at JD Williams, where sales fell 2%. Simply Be sales rose 9.3%, while Jacamo sales crept up 2%.

Outside of its power brands, secondary brand sales fell 9.1%, while its traditional revenues slumped 9.8%. 

N Brown said this performance reflected “the planned shift in marketing investment away from Fashion World,  towards Power Brands. Traditional revenues declined as we focused on the online element within this segment, and reduced our recruitment activity in the declining offline segment.”

It added: “We would expect this dynamic to continue through the year.”