N Brown boss unfazed by threat of monster merger

N Brown chief executive Alan White believes the mail-order specialist could withstand the arrival of a monster force in the home shopping market.

Commenting on the proposed merger of the GUS and Littlewoods home shopping businesses, White said he was 'not surprised' that the OFT and Competition Commission were concerned about the deal, which would create a company three times the size of its next rival.

'I wouldn't see a major issue for our business in the short term,' said White. 'They will have plenty on their hands putting those two businesses together.'

Last week was the information-gathering deadline set by the Competition Commission. Submissions from sector rivals N Brown and Pinault Printemps Redoute-owned Redcats were among the body of evidence for the report, which is due out before Christmas.

In results announced last week, N Brown revealed it is recovering after over-zealous range-cutting last year, which failed to impress customers.

White said the latest offering had restored choice and promised customers an even bigger spring/summer catalogue, with a bolstered home offer. N Brown is also introducing 200 lines between seasons by way of leaflets and specialogues.

As part of its recovery plan, the retailer will debut an 80-line own-brand menswear range next spring. Called South Bay, it will offer stylish options for 40- to 60-year-olds.

In the six months to August, turnover grew 2.2 per cent to£231 million.

Pre-tax profits slipped to£25.1 million from£27.1 million last year.