N Brown has posted a 5.6% jump in sales during its first quarter, driven by a strong performance in its ladieswear category.

n brown

The JD Williams, Jacamo and Simply Be owner hailed “continued momentum”, as product revenue jumped 10.2% in the 13 weeks to June 3, and online sales grew 16%.

However, N Brown today unveiled plans to shutter up to five loss-making Simply Be and Jacamo dual-fascia stores.

The retailer said this decision comes as a result of “ongoing weak footfall in some locations” and takes into account significant future business rate increases for some stores.

It said the closure process will be completed by the end of August, at a cost of around £10m-£14m. 

Sales uplift

Of the group’s power brands, Simply Be was the star performer, with sales jumping 20.5% during the period, during which the retailer ran its ‘We Are Curves’ campaign.

Chief executive Angela Spindler said: “Ladieswear and Simply Be in particular had a very strong period, with good responses to our Spring/Summer campaigns, leading to further market share gains.”

Sales at JD Williams advanced 12.7%, while its ‘big and tall’ menswear brand Jacamo recorded a 5.5% sales rise.

At its international division, N Brown generated a 10% sales uplift – down 2% on a constant currency basis.

It plans to step up marketing investment in the US during its second quarter, where sales grew 4% during the period.

The group’s financial services division suffered an “expected” 4.9% decline.


Spindler said: “Although the outlook for consumer confidence remains uncertain, our offering is resonating with customers.

“At this early stage in the financial year, trading is on track to meet our expectations. We continue to invest in our customer proposition and remain very confident in our future growth prospects.”

Earlier this year, at the retailer’s full-year results, Spindler told Retail Week that the business was done with its transition plan and ready for growth.

Last week, N Brown chairman Andy Higginson declared his intention to stand down from the fashion group to pursue opportunities in private equity.