N Brown confident for 2007


Group sales for the 21 weeks ended 20th January 2007 are up by
14.2 per cent at N Brown Group. Home shopping sales rose by 14.8
per cent in total and by 10.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

In a statement to the City the company said that it continues
“to see strong levels of growth in all key customer groups
and product ranges. The proportion of online sales continues to
rise and the value of these sales is 43 per cent up on last
year”. Home and leisure sales were up 18 per cent and are
of growing importance to the home shopping group which has
traditionally been focused on clothing and footwear for mature
customers. Within its home and leisure portfolio is the House of
Bath which it acquired more than two years ago. “In recent
months we have been bolstering the size of the House of Bath
catalogue which for this spring is 120 pages and performing well.
We are seeing an improved customer response from the wider
selection of products in the catalogue,” said Alan White,
CEO. The former managing director of House of Bath, Maura
Beishon, who was taken on when N Brown acquired the business,
exited quietly last December leaving N Brown Group free to
recruit Dara O’Malley to steer the brand. O’Malley joins from
Derby House and has previously worked for JD Williams as well as
Littlewoods.

N Brown Group had earlier been rumoured to be in the running to
acquire the business of The Cotswold Company but this was denied
by Alan White days before the meeting of the TCC’s creditors
(15th January) at which the creditors unanimously agreed to TCC’s
proposals to accept an offer from another major public group
(with home shopping interests).

N Brown Group unveiled a one-off return to shareholders of some
£80 million, equivalent to 27p a share. It also proposes to
contribute £15 million to its pension fund in March with a
total further payment of £12 million phased over the next
three years to eliminate deficits.

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