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Ladieswear segment sales up at N Brown Group
08
Oct '08
N Brown Group plc, the internet and catalogue home shopping company, announces its interim results for the 26 weeks to 30th August 2008.

Alan White, Chief Executive, said:
“We are pleased with our performance over the last six months, particularly against the backdrop of the decline in consumer confidence. Our strategy to always look at means of improving our product ranges, websites and catalogues has enabled us to deliver strong growth across our portfolio of brands. We will continue to further develop our channels to market and enrich our product offer. The uncertain length and depth of the economic downturn still worries retailers generally, but the increase in sales for the first five weeks of 11.8%, give us confidence that we can continue to deliver growth in the second half.”

Lord Alliance of Manchester, CBE, Chairman, added:
“It is encouraging that we are maintaining growth across all our customer groups, and all of our product ranges. We know that we need to be conscious of the uncertainty around the economic outlook, however with the expertise of our management team and the positive start to the second half, I remain confident we can deliver another good performance.”

CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT:
Results

Our home shopping business has continued to deliver strong revenue and profit growth in the 26 weeks to 30th August 2008, despite the economic conditions and the decline in consumer confidence. This is due to the favourable demographics of our customer base, coupled with improvements to our product ranges, websites and catalogues.

Revenue from continuing operations is up by 12.6% to £322.8m and operating profit is up by 12.0% to £45.9m. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations are up by 18.9% to 10.82p. The directors are proposing a 4.9% increase in the interim dividend to 2.78p. Net borrowings at 30 August 2008 have increased by £18.2m on last year to £220.5m. Our committed bank facilities from HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland total £320m and are in place until 2012. Net interest payable on borrowings was covered 6.0 times (2007, 5.8 times) and gearing fell from 93% to 88%.

Customers
Revenue has been driven by an increase in both the number of new and established customers and the spend per customer. Successful trading in the last financial year, when we also launched a number of new brands, meant we started this year with a larger customer base. This has helped sales from established customers increase by 11% through a combination of 4% more customers and a 7% rise in revenue per customer. In addition an increased investment in customer recruitment resulted in sales from new customers rising by 20%.

It is encouraging that we continue to see growth in all our customer groups. The largest group, the midlife titles which target customers aged 45 – 65, grew by 9% to £214m, including good results from JD Williams, Oxendale Ireland, Premier Man and Marisota. The younger titles, targeted at customers aged below 45, continue to grow at the fastest rate, and saw sales increase by 21% to £94m. Jacamo and Simply Yours, which were launched in 2007, have continued to do well, complementing strong growth from the Simply Be and Fashion World brands.


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