N Brown reports increase in online sales amid overall revenue decline

N Brown has reported that 85% of its product revenue came via its digital channels, representing a growth of 6 percentage points, in the year ended 29 February 2020. This increasing focus on eCommerce has also helped the fashion brand recover following the sudden dip in sales it experienced as a result of Covid-19 in March, with 91% of its revenue generated via online channels so far in FY21.

In a trading update published today, N Brown revealed that eCommerce made up the vast majority of sales across all its brands in the 52 weeks up to 29 February. For Simply Be it was 98%, Jacamo 97%, JD Williams 81%, and Ambrose Wilson 60%. And overall, online revenue growth was up by 5.5% across its womenswear products and 5.5% in menswear.

This comes amid an overall decline in revenue of 6.1% for the group in FY20, with product sales down by 7.8% and financial services revenue by 2.7%, leading to a reduction in pre-tax profit of 28.8%.

Since March, like much of the fashion retail sector, N Brown has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with revenue falling by 22%. This includes a 28% decline in product sales, although there has been an improvement in the past three weeks, in which sales have declined by 21%. This has been aided by the online launch of the company’s Home Essentials brand on 1 April, and last month, N Brown reported that sales of home and gift categories were up by 74%.

Steve Johnson, chief executive of N Brown commented: “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.

“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. Operating costs are significantly lower than last year and net debt has decreased.”