• N Brown’s statutory pre-tax profit falls 7.8% to £72.2m
  • But total sales across the year increase 3.5% to £866.2m
  • Underlying pre-tax profits in N Brown’s second-half rise after “good” Christmas
  • Bosses warn trading has been “subdued” since the year end

N Brown’s full-year profits have been dented by investment in its change programme, but its strategy bore fruit during the second half. 

The plus-size fashion retailer’s statutory pre-tax profit fell 7.8% to £72.2m in the year to February 27.

N Brown said this was driven by “exceptional costs largely incurred in the first half” as it continued to invest in its three-year change programme, as it transforms from a catalogue retailer to an online business.

Bosses hailed signs that its strategy was paying dividends after second-half underlying pre-tax profit advanced 11% to £49.5m, buoyed by a “good” Christmas trading period.

The retailer said its online penetration jumped six percentage points year on year to 65%, driving a 15% increase in online revenues across the 52-week period.

Online penetration of new customers hit 72%, up seven percentage points compared to the previous year.

N Brown said two thirds of its online traffic came from mobile devices.

Total sales for the year increased 3.5% to £866.2m. Product revenues grew 4.1%, while its financial services business posted a 2.1% uplift.

N Brown said retail sales growth was driven by its ‘power brands’ JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo, which registered a combined 10% jump in revenues during the year.

Simply Be was the standout performer, reporting a 15.6% spike in sales to £103.9m.

Jacamo revenues increased 14.6% to £62.8m, while JD Williams posted a 4.7% uplift to £151.2m.

Sales from N Brown’s 14 dual-fascia Simply Be and Jacamo stores were up 18% to £27.0m.

N Brown chief executive Angela Spindler said she was “pleased” with the retailer’s progress, but warned trading since the year end had been “subdued” amid a tough market.

She said: “Looking forward, whilst we face challenging market conditions for the fashion sector overall, and trading since the year end has been subdued, we remain confident in our ability to make further progress this year.

“This is based on the strong appeal of our specialist fit proposition, continuous improvement in the customer experience and changes in customer shopping behaviour, driven by targeted marketing.”