N Brown has continued to outperform the market with underlying pre-tax profits soaring 11.3 per cent to £82.7m in its full year to February 28.

Trading for the first eight weeks of its new financial year to April 25 has been strong, up 6.1 per cent on last year.

Despite the downturn N Brown’s niche position has continued to serve as an advantage, with average customer spend up 7 per cent over the year. Total revenues for the period grew 10.7 per cent to £662.5m.

Sales from ecommerce have risen 34 per cent for the year and now accounts for 36 per cent of the home shopping group’s total growth.

Although N Brown has so far been able to successfully control bad debts, it has impacted its operating margins, which fell from 15 per cent to 14.4 per cent reflecting an increased charge for bad debts. It said however that debt was still a “fundamental, and successful, part of our strategy.”

N Brown chief executive Alan White said: “Whilst the outlook remains uncertain, we believe that the strength of our customer base and focussed product propositions means we are well-positioned to continue to further increase our market share.”

He added: “We will continue to capitalise on growth opportunities generated from the further development of our core brands, e-commerce strategy and the flexibility of our business model, as well as expanding our international trials.”