N Brown’s margins may slip further as the home shopping group deploys promotions to drive sales, analysts believe.
The retailer, best known for its plus-size brands which include Simply Be and Jacamo, posted turnover up 5.1% in the 18 weeks to July 2 and like-for-likes up 1.6%, “slightly ahead” of the rate reported at its preliminary results in May.
However, the home shopping group’s gross margin declined 0.2% as it staged promotions to drive sales.
N Brown had previously advised that full-year margins would be down 50 basis points, but Oriel analyst Jonathan Pritchard believes there is a risk of further margin decline.
He said: “The risk is on the downside to this forecast as stimulating sales growth looks likely to get harder rather than easier for the balance of the year.”
The retailer said that its menswear and footwear categories were growing strongly but its womenswear remained slightly down as inflation had subdued demand. It said unique products at higher price points had performed well.
N Brown’s international sales for its Simply Be brand in the US and Germany are “rising in line with expectations”. Online sales advanced to account for 47% of overall sales, up from 41% last year.
The retailer has signed for two sites in Liverpool and Bury for its physical store trial for Simply Be. The shops are expected to open by early October.