N Brown has reported a slump in half-year profits and that is has closed 18 clearance stores as it continues to transform into a digital business.

  • Underlying profits down 15.9%, revenues up 4.2%
  • Statutory profits hit by costs of closing clearance stores
  • JD Williams turnaround ‘on track’ as new customers up 21%

Underlying pre-tax profit dropped 15.9% to £35m for the half year to August 29, while group revenue increased 4.2% to £415.8m.

The fashion retail group’s statutory profit before tax plunged 54.6% to £19.4m for the half year, following exceptional costs accrued over the six months relating to clearance store closures.

N Brown chief executive Angela Spindler said: “We have continued to execute significant changes in H1 and have delivered results in line with our expectations.

“We are adjusting our retail business model and the way we operate, transforming from direct mail-led to digital first.”

Current trading

Spindler added the second half of the year had “started well with a pleasing performance in September” and added she was pleased with the performance of the retail group’s power brands.

N Brown said the JD Williams turnaround is on track with new customers up 21% and online penetration has exceeded 50% for the first time. However, JD Williams’ product revenue was flat year-on-year, remaining at £103.1m.

Simply Be and Jacamo’s product revenues both increased 21%. The two brands’ stores recorded a like-for-like sales increase of 6% and profitability at stores included 12%.

Alongside the closure of the 18 clearance stores, the retailer said there were “operational improvements” made to Simply Be and Jacamo shops.