• N Brown like-for-like sales increase 4.1% in its third quarter
  • ‘Power brands’ Jacamo, Simply Be and JD Williams all record double-digit growth
  • Online sales rise 13% during 18 weeks to January 2
  • But stores post “disappointing” performance following weaker footfall

N Brown has reported a 4.1% jump in like-for-likes during the third quarter as online growth outstripped its bricks-and-mortar performance.

Ecommerce sales jumped 13% in the 18 weeks to January 2 as online penetration increased five percentage points to 66%. N Brown said three quarters of new customer demand was generated online during the period, while 68% of traffic to its website came through mobile. 

But the fashion retailer’s strong online performance was dented by “disappointing” store sales, as like-for-likes were flat. N Brown blamed “weaker” footfall as the “primary cause” of muted bricks-and-mortar sales and added that it would continue to focus on the “efficiency and profitability” of its store estate.

Cheif executive Angela Spindler told Retail Week: ”Flat like-for-likes don’t doesn’t really matter to be honest. Stores are less than 3% of revenue. I don’t mean to sound blasé but footfall was down on the highstreet and in that context I think flat like-for-likes are reasonable. We know that our stores create a halo effect, driving online orders from the areas that surround stores.”

N Brown said the core JD Williams brand achieved double-digit revenue growth, driven by an improved product offer, strong PR activity and digital-first autumn/winter marketing campaigns.

N Brown is trying to increase JD Williams’ share of the men’s market. Spindler added: ”Menswear is only 8% of the JD Williams brand – we think we can double that. Clearly a market there is a market there and it is predominently online. We have not participated in it particularly well until now and we think it is a good opportunity for us.”

 Simply Be posted “low double-digit” revenue growth, while its own-label proposition helped Jacamo record a double-digit uplift in sales.

N Brown said group sales increased 4.1% during the 18-week period, as retail sales advanced 4.3%. That outpaced the growth of its financial services arm, which posted a 3.7% rise in revenues.

Chief executive Angela Spindler said: “We are pleased with our performance in the third quarter, during which we saw clear evidence of the benefits of the way in which we are transforming the business.

“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.

”This was driven by our improved product offering, which continues to gain traction with customers, together with our new digital marketing initiatives.

“Our digital-first strategy has continued to make good progress and I am encouraged by the transformation under way 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.”