N Brown sees profits lift as it thinks big

HOME shopping clothes retailer N Brown yesterday reported a half year profits rise as its investment in brands for larger men and women paid off.

In the half-year to August, sales were up four per cent to £364m, with profits surging six per cent to £45m.

The Manchester-based company lifted its dividend five per cent to 5.29p a share on the strength of the performance. N Brown, which has the Jacamo, Simply Be and

High and Mighty brands, is seeing its sales in London and the south east on the up. Chief executive Alan White said: “The focus on larger sizes makes the customers more loyal.

“Our performance in London is very positive and it seems to be different to the rest of the economy.” However, he warned that the trading environment was tough and that budgets are being squeezed.

“We are seeing some people not buying whereas they have in previous years, so we are targeting them and offering discounts to get them buying again.” He said the company was not on the lookout for acquisitions and that the market would probably not be ripe for such activity for at least another year.

Jacamo is the fastest growing brand, with the recruitment of Freddie Flintoff as brand ambassador proving handy.

Simply Be has moved strongly into both Germany and the US – international sales are up 173 per cent to £4.1m.