N Brown profits fall as Covid-19 casts ‘lasting shadow’

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The owner of Simply Be, JD Williams, Jacamo and Ambrose Wilson said its group adjusted profit before tax was down 28.8% year on year to £59.5m in the 52 weeks to 29 February 2020. However, it made an operating profit of £48.1m, up from a £47.7m loss the year before.

Group revenue fell by 6.1% to £858m during the period. 

Chief executive Steve Johnson said“In a year of restructuring for the group, Simply Be, JD Williams, Jacamo and Ambrose Wilson all grew digital revenue and following further progress in the first quarter of this financial year, 91% of our 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.”

N Brown is focusing on five ”growth pillars” to drive the business forward: offering distinct brands to attract a broader range of customers; improving product to drive customer frequency; introducing a new home offer; enhancing the digital experience; and offering flexible credit to customers.

It added that trading has improved from March, when the business suffered a sudden and significant sales decline due to the impact of coronavirus.

Product sales were down 28.8%, but have recovered slightly to being 21% down over the last three weeks of trading.

Johnson added: ”The business has responded strongly to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak, highlighting our resilience as a business and I thank every single one of our colleagues who have worked so hard to keep us operational, with safety and our customers in the front of their minds.

”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.

”Trading in the first quarter of this financial year was impacted by Covid-19 but sales in recent weeks have shown an improving trajectory and cash collections have been stable.”

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