Half-year sales dragged down by door-to-door business
N Brown's core home shopping sales were offset last year by heavy losses at its door-to-door business. Group sales were down 3.1 per cent in the 21 weeks to January 22, although home shopping sales were level for the period compared with last year.

House of Stirling, the retailer's door-to-door division, reduced sales over the period by 25 per cent, although this was expected, the board said.

Gross margins improved slightly, by 0.6 per cent, because of a bad debt reduction programme.

The retailer said home shopping sales had been dented by a tough clothing and footwear environment characterised by deflationary prices and growth skewed to young shoppers. The delayed release of spring catalogues, a result of the timing of the New Year holiday, had also contributed to the unimpressive sales.

N Brown reported that its strongest sales had come from its footwear and corsetry ranges. The retailer said: 'With the benefits of our targeted cost reduction campaign, the board's expectations for the performance of the business are broadly unchanged.'