N Brown’s like-for-like sales grew over the Christmas period although the cold snap took its toll on trading.
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Like-for-likes were up 1.2%, excluding sales from Figleaves, for the 19 weeks to January 8. Total sales increased by 4.6%.
The home shopping group said sales tailed off after mid-December as customers worried their Christmas orders would not arrive on time. N Brown also said the despatch of its catalogues and statements were delayed over the last four weeks of the period as the snow set in. It expects to recover sales when its marketing materials arrive with customers.
Menswear and footwear experienced strong growth, as have the outsize womenswear brand Marisota and plus-size menswear brand Jacamo.
Online sales have risen by 26% over the trading period and now account for 47% of group sales.
The rate of gross margin has also improved, increasing by 1.2% year-on-year. The improvement has been driven by higher product margins, due to less discounting, and further reductions in the charge for bad debts.
The board said it was confident it can deliver performance in line with its expectations for its financial year ending February 2011.
It cautioned though about the year ahead about the affect inflation would have on sales.
It said: “Looking further ahead the combination of pressure on customers’ disposable income and significant cost inflation makes consumer expenditure more difficult to judge.”
The home shopping group said it would be targeting online trading and international expansion for growth.