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N Brown profits fall in year of digital transformation

By Huw Hughes

25 Jun 2020

N Brown’s adjusted profit before tax fell 28.8 percent to 59.5 million pounds for the 12 months to 29 February in what the company described as a “critical year” for its “transition to digital”.

Group revenue for the year fell 6.1 percent to 858.2 million pounds.

The company, which owns Simply Be, Jacamo and JD Williams, said it had made “significant progress in transition to digital”, with 85 percent of its full-year product revenue generated through digital channels.

Breaking that down by brand, 8 percent of Simply Be revenues were digital, 97 percent for Jacamo, 81 percent for JD Williams, and 60 percent for Ambrose Wilson.

Operating costs were down 9.9 percent “due to strategic focus on cost base”.

For the first quarter of FY21, revenue fell 22 percent, impacted by store closures. But the company said trading has started to improve since a sharp decline in March.

‘Refreshed strategy’

“The crisis will cast a lasting shadow over the sector, but we are confident that our agile approach and attractive brand offerings, with clear target customer segments, position us well to navigate the issues and emerge as a stronger business,” CEO Steve Johnson said in a statement.

He was optimistic about the company’s digital transformation, highlighting how 91 percent of its product revenue now comes from digital channels.

“The retail environment remains heavily promotional and the regulatory challenges in financial services have required us to adapt and evolve our offer, but our commitment to driving operating efficiencies is creating the right platform for the future,” he said.

“As we move forward, we have refreshed our strategy, evolved our key pillars of growth and are pushing on with further work to streamline our brand portfolio, improve our product, create a brand new Home proposition whilst improving our digital capabilities and developing our financial services offer. Challenges remain in the year ahead, but we are focused on accelerating the business and are confident we are taking the right actions to create a sustainable, profitable business for the long term which has the potential to generate significant value.”

Photo credit: JD Williams, Facebook