Simply Be owner N Brown could shut all 20 of its stores

16 June, 2018, 19:50 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Simply Be and Jacamo owner N Brown mulls closing all stores

"Should the decision be taken to close all 20 stores, we anticipate an exceptional cost of £18m to £22m, of which approximately half will be in cash" read the statement.

The outlets affected will be shut ahead of their lease expiry date and bring in around 2% of N Brown's revenues, generating £15 million in the 2018 financial year.

It is the latest retailer to shut stores amid hard conditions on the high street and a long-term shift to online shopping.

Michelle Byrne, area organiser of the shop workers' union Usdaw, said the move was a "real shock for staff".

The shops, which are dotted around the United Kingdom, from London to Belfast and Glasgow, contributed £15m, or 2% sales, past year and made a loss of £3m. "Our priority is to save jobs", she said.

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The group, which also owns online retailer JD Williams, entered into a consultation with staff on Thursday, saying that weak footfall on the high street means it has to close stores. Revenue at JD Williams declined 2 percent, but increased 9.3 percent at Simply Be and 2 percent at Jacamo.

Elsewhere, global revenue fell, with United States of America sales down 7.2%, although encouragingly, N Brown's Financial Services business grew by a better than expected 9%. N Brown said its performance in the USA was impacted by significantly reducing investment in offline recruitment, in-line with its wider strategy.

Eliminating losses should be positive for the investment case, so today's 6.1% share price decline to 185.6p reflects N Brown's underwhelming first quarter showing, albeit delivered in a tough period for most United Kingdom apparel retailers.

Last year, the stores - which focus on "speciality fit" clothing for larger sizes and shorter and taller people - generated £15million of sales, which is just 2% of group revenue.

Analysts at N+1 Singer said in a note: "Today's first quarter update is solid in context with the dire conditions for the first part of the quarter, including Easter. The drag from former Fifty Plus customer migration is yet to wash through but they are optimistic about the measures to resolve this through the course of the year".

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