May 16, 2011, 4:48 PM

Web sales increase 19% for N Brown Group in fiscal 2011

The web now accounts for 45% of total sales.

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N Brown Group Plc., one of the biggest direct marketers of apparel, housewares and related categories in the United Kingdom, is reporting healthy web sales for the 2011 fiscal year.

For the 2011 fiscal year ended Feb. 26, N Brown, which owns and operates JD Williams and about 30 other brands and is No. 36 in the Internet Retailer Top 300 Europe, reported:

  • Web sales increased about 19% to 324.0 million pounds (US$525.2 million) from 272.5 million pounds (US$441.7 million) in fiscal 2010.
  • Total sales increased about 4.2% to 718.8 million pounds (US$1.165 billion) from 690.0 million pounds (US$1.118 billion) in fiscal 2010.
  • Operating profit grew year over year 5.1% to 102.6 million pounds (US$166.3 million) from 97.6 million pounds (US$158.2 million) in fiscal 2010.

Internet Retailer calculates the web accounted for 45.1% of total sales compared with 39.5% in fiscal 2010.

N Brown did not break out quarterly web sales, total sales and operating profit in its year-end earnings release. “Last year was a very busy one for the group, as we acquired Figleaves.com and launched our Simply Be brand in the U.S., as well as driving growth from our established brands,” says CEO Alan White. “Our key focus this year will be to expand our home shopping business, both in the U.K. and internationally, particularly by further developing our online activities.”

In fiscal 2011, N Brown invested 10.0 million pounds (US$16.2 million) in new e-commerce technology, including an updated content management system, the company says.

Better web technology helped to boost e-commerce sales in certain segments such as plus-size ladies apparel, ladies intimates and apparel shoppers over 50. “In the coming year we expect online sales to account for the majority of all sales,” says White. “The growth is coming from all age groups but in the next few years we are aiming to grow the proportion of online sales from our mid-life customers, currently 37%, as the younger customers are already at 64%, including some brands which are almost at 80%.”

In June 2011, N Brown acquired Figleaves.com, which sells intimate apparel in the U.K. and in the U.S., for 10.3 million pounds (US$16.7 million).

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