N Brown will launch its first dedicated health and beauty site this year, after reporting full-year profits for the home shopping group that exceeded expectations.
Chief executive Alan White said that the small amount of health and beauty products sold on its other sites have performed well so it will go live with a yet-to-be-named standalone site this autumn.
Adjusted pre-tax profits for N Brown were ahead 12.6% in the year to February 27 to £93.1m, £4m to £5m ahead of consensus. Total sales grew 4.2% to £690m, with UK like-for-like sales up 3.3%.
KBC Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson said: “In current trade, sales are ahead 4.1% for the first eight weeks of the new financial year, in keeping with our forecast assumptions at this time.
“However, menswear growth of 17% over 2010 will provide further momentum, with new acquisition High & Mighty also set to benefit from a number of trading initiatives.”
Shore Capital analyst Kate Calvert also saw the High & Mighty acquisition as a solid growth opportunity as well as its planned expansion of its international business into the US later this year. “We find this, together with a robust balance sheet attractive,” she said.
N Brown will launch its Simply Be offer in the US in late summer this year hoping to take a slice of the $35bn (£22.8bn) plus-size market there.
One area where sales did decline for the group was across its older demographic where sales fell 5% for the year. White said the older demographic is far more cautious than younger customers during the downturn and relies more heavily on savings, which have been hit by low interest rates.
Sales for its younger brands such as Simply Be have continued to enjoy the fastest growth up 8% to £216m for the year. “Younger customers are continuing to spend with gay abandon,” said White.
This year N Brown will also work with more celebrities to help promote their brands. Boxer Joe Calzaghe will promote its menswear brand Jacamo while Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips, who has already designed a range for its Marisota brand, will work across more of its brands for middle-aged women.