They say size isn’t everything but if you are in fashion it certainly is.

The plus-size market is continuing to grow as the UK waistline expands but it can be a difficult market to serve.

N Brown however has become the master of the plus-size market with its home shopping business, which continues to outperform many retailers even in the tougher current climate.

It is now poised to pick up another retailer - outsized men’s specialist High & Mighty, which could add a further dimension to its offer - stores.

A deal is understood to be imminent and although there could be a closure of some shops N Brown may want to keep some of High & Mighty’s 23 stores open.

At present, despite a small clearance offer, N Brown does not have high street shops, keeping its offer online and in catalogues. 

High & Mighty began as a mail order business and then expanded onto the high street. But its has apparently failed amid tough trading conditions and the sale process is likely to include a pre-pack administration.

The fact is that niche retailing works better with a multichannel model. With the vastly improved capabilities online, retailers are able to offer a far greater choice for a once underserved customer.

However there is little need for scores of stores across the country to serve 7 ft men and shops therefore need to be in key, destination areas, supported by a strong online offer.

The plus-size market has become far more fashion conscious in recent years as people want to look good whatever their height or shape.

However some larger customers do not always feel comfortable trying on clothes in the high street and few provide wider aisles or larger changing rooms to make the experience any more pleasant.

N Brown understands this and continues to be the very best in the niche. If it can continue this success High & Mighty is well placed because it has very strong market recognition despite its relatively small size.


D Day for sports retail


After an emphatic win by the England football team last night securing their World Cup place, and a solid update by Sports Direct, there seemed to finally be some good news in the sports sector.

However this morning it was revealed that the OFT and serious fraud office is now in the process of investigating both retailers.

Retail watches have asked for years whether the seemingly incestuous world of sports retailing would be called to answer. These investigations are likely to be long and difficult but it seems that day has come.

After a great deal mud slinging between the two companies in recent months any questions over how the market and perhaps individuals, have been working will now be need answered.