N Brown has made a strong start to its financial year with continued growth across its home shopping brands and a 5.1 per cent rise in turnover in the 18 weeks to July 4.

Warmer weather has benefitted N Brown with strong sales of summer lines and investment in its websites has helped increase online sales by 25 per cent. Sales from its websites now account for 37 per cent of its total revenues.

N Brown has been actively seeking to reduce customer debt in the business due to economic uncertainties and it said that although less customer recruitment has constrained its sales growth, debtor growth is down to 8 per cent, from 13 per cent at its year end.

Chairman Lord Alliance of Manchester will tell shareholders at N Brown’s AGM today: “We are proactively managing those debtors who fall into arrears with alternative payment schemes where possible. The expected increase in bad debts has resulted in a reduction in the rate of gross margin by 1.5 per cent, although at the pre-tax profit level this is fully offset by operational cost savings and reduced interest charges.”

He will add: “The group’s financial position remains strong and the board continues to believe that our business model and strategy to target niche customers and products will prove to be beneficial in the remainder of the financial year.”