N Brown is positive about revenue growth driven by brands and online sales despite pre-tax profit slipping in the first half.

The online and catalogue retailer posted a pre-tax profit fall of 4.5% to £42m. But like-for-likes jumped 3.7% for the 26 weeks to September 1 and total sales increased 4.3% to £379.3m, while online sales surged 12% to £196m.

The retailer said the sales performance was due to double digit growth from its younger brands such as Jacamo and Simply Be, and its menswear and home and leisure product ranges.

It reported “explosive growth” of online sales on mobile devices. 18% of visits online now come from a mobile device.

But operating profit fell 2.8% to £45.7m as the retailer absorbed £1.1m losses from the Simply Be concept stores and a £1.3m increase in the depreciation charge.

N Brown delivered a lower gross margin rate, falling by 1.6% to 53.3% due to the product, customer and channel mix.

Sales for the six weeks to October 13 advanced 10.1%.

N Brown chief executive Alan White said: “The 10.1% increase in sales at the start of the second half is also very encouraging and all our major brands and product areas have contributed to this growth. This gives us some optimism in the outlook for our second half performance.”

Chairman Andrew Higginson, who took up the role in the last quarter, added: “The strategy to focus on the development of our core brands and our online trading capability is delivering positive results, as evidenced by our strong start to the second half.”

Sales across its younger brands that are targeted at women under the age of 50 increased 12% to £143m. Menswear brand Jacamo’s sales soared 40%, while Figleaves and Simply Be also posted “strong” performances for the period.

Sales for brands targeted at the over 50s were flat year on year at £236m and accounted for 62% of total sales.