N Brown, the fashion retailer behind popular brands like Simply Be, JD Williams, Ambrose Wilson, and Jacamo, has unveiled its full-year results and first-quarter trading update, along with a refreshed strategy to restore sustainable growth. The past year has brought significant challenges for the company, with declining revenue, profits, and a rise in debt. The impact of lockdown measures in the most recent quarter further exacerbated its financial performance.
In the 12 months leading up to February 29, N Brown witnessed a 6.1% decrease in group revenue to £858.2 million, with product revenue falling by 7.2% to £567.7 million. Adjusted EBITDA also declined by 16.6% to £106.7 million, and adjusted profit before tax dropped by 28.8% to £59.5 million. While there was a notable increase in statutory profit before tax to £35.7 million, this improvement can be attributed to reduced exceptional charges rather than improved operational performance.
The latest quarter saw a 22% decline in group revenue, with product revenue falling by as much as 28.8%. However, there have been some signs of recovery in the past three weeks, with product sales down only 21%. Apparel sales have started to rebound from mid-March levels, and demand for Home & Gift has remained strong, particularly supported by the launch of Home Essentials on April 1.
N Brown has made significant strides in its digital channels over recent years, with 85% of product revenue in FY20 generated through these channels, marking a 6% increase from the previous year. Moreover, 98% of Simply Be revenues, 97% of Jacamo revenues, 81% of JD Williams revenues, and 60% of Ambrose Wilson revenues were digital. In the most recent quarter, online sales accounted for 91% of total sales.
In response to the challenges it has faced, N Brown has implemented cost-cutting measures and reduced its debt level by almost 10%. The company’s refreshed strategy centers around five growth pillars: offering distinct brands to attract a broader customer base, enhancing products to drive customer frequency, introducing a new Home category to expand shopping options, improving the digital experience to boost customer conversion rates, and providing flexible credit options to support customer purchases.
N Brown has undergone significant changes in recent years, transitioning from physical stores to a digital-focused approach. Today, the company ranks among the top 10 digital retailers for clothing and footwear in the UK. With a clearer strategic focus and an appropriate cost structure for a digital retailer, N Brown is confident that its agile approach and appealing brand offerings will help it navigate the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and emerge as a stronger business.
As part of its refreshed strategy, N Brown has decided to concentrate solely on its key brands and will either integrate its other brands, such as Marisota and Fashion World, into its main brands or close them down. CEO Steve Johnson expressed confidence in the company’s ability to overcome the enduring effects of the crisis on the sector and emerge stronger. He believes that N Brown’s resilience, combined with its well-defined target customer segments and attractive brand offerings, positions the company well for the future.
1. [N Brown Official Website](https://www.nbrown.co.uk/)
2. [N Brown Brands](https://www.nbrown.co.uk/our-brands/)