“It has been a year of heavy lifting,” N Brown’s chief executive Angela Spindler explained yesterday as she sought to allay fears over the retailer’s shock profit warning.
Since joining N Brown in July last year, the former Asda director and Original Factory Shop boss has been busy hauling the business into the digital age and distancing it from its traditional mail-order roots.
Some of these changes included cutting back on leaflets and catalogues through the post and ramping up its digital marketing.
However, one of the biggest changes was to move the timing of its marketing spend to September, which did not have the effect that it had hoped for. The TV ads of Lorraine Kelly modelling the new JD Williams range did not entice shoppers because of the warm weather.
“We have assumed that the season would kick off in earnest as it has in the previous years for fashion retailers into the second or third week of September, but that didn’t happen,” Spindler told City A.M.
Unlike fashion retailers, mail-order businesses put out their catalogues in January for the summer season and in July for autumn’s .
N Brown decided to align itself with other fashion retailers and launch a massive marketing push at the beginning of September when consumers typically begin stocking up on jumpers and other winter clothing.
“Ultimately, N Brown dialled up a massive marketing campaign when people were not interested in buying winter clothing. And that is dead money,” Peel Hunt’s retail analyst John Stevenson told City A.M.
The result is N Brown has slashed its second-half profit forecast by £15m. “We are not anticipating getting back what we lost in September,” Spindler said.
Despite this setback, the 52-year-old retail veteran is confident that good things are in store for the company going forwards: “I am really pleased with what we have done so far this year. There has been a big programme of change and lots of things have been achieved over the last five months.
“It is hard to set forecasts when a business is in transition. But in the round, we will have come through this year of change in pretty good shape.”