N Brown sounds alarm as move away from catalogues hits profit

N Brown boss Angela Spindler (left) and TV’s Lorraine Kelly, who models for JD Williams
ONLINE, catalogue and store retailer N Brown has issued its second profit warning in six months following a challenging autumn trading period.

The retailer said it was disappointed by the slower profit growth, but remained optimistic that its recent restructuring would ensure future growth.

“The company is transitioning from a traditional model: we are changing our emphasis away from catalogue titles to a digital platform,” said Angela Spindler, chief executive of N Brown.

Spindler believes this “necessary transformation” is the reason why the plus-sized fashion retailer now expects pre-tax profit to be slightly below the current market consensus of £88m.

“The mail order model is a declining market so we have to step back a bit to step forwards,” said Spindler.

Full-year sales for N Brown, whose brands include Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo, were flat. but like-for-like sales increased 3.6 per cent for the 13 weeks to 28 February, the only quarter to record year-on-year growth.

Online sales penetration rose to 62 per cent in the most recent quarter, up from 59 per cent last year.