Rising sales, loss-making store closures bring cheer to N Brown

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By Noor Zainab HussainJune 20 (Reuters) - British plus-size fashion retailer N
Brown Group Plc <BWNG.L> reported a 10 percent rise in
first-quarter product revenue and said it would shutter up to
five loss-making stores, sending its shares to their highest in
more than a year.
    N Brown, whose brands target women aged 30 and above and
those of a larger frame, said demand was strong for its women's
clothing and reported a 16 percent rise in online sales in the
13 weeks to June 3, amid a tough trading conditions that have
hit retailers. [nRST4994Ia]
    Ladieswear and its Simply Be brand had a very strong period,
with good responses to N Brown spring and summer campaigns,
particularly JD Williams' "Spring into Summer" and Simply Be's
"We Are Curves", the retailer said.
    Rival Bonmarche Holdings Plc <BONB.L>, which makes women's
clothing in sizes 10-28, reported an almost 40 percent drop in
full-year profit, and said the apparel market was hurt by lower
demand, Britain's move to leave the European Union and
unseasonal weather patterns. [nRSS4003Ia]
    Rising inflation and muted wage growth following the Brexit
vote in June last year has forced consumers to rein in their
    British retail sales posted their biggest quarterly fall in
seven years in the first three months of 2017, hurt by rising
prices following the Brexit vote, reinforcing views that
household spending, the main driver of the UK economy, was
slowing sharply. [nL8N1HT1M8]
    "Although the outlook for consumer confidence remains
uncertain, our offering is resonating with customers," Chief
Executive Angela Spindler said.
    Analysts at Jefferies nudged up their full-year 2018 pretax
profit expectations for N Brown by 1 million pounds ($1.3
million) and pushed up 2019 estimates by 2 million pounds,
accounting for the store closures. Analysts at Peel Hunt
upgraded the stock to a "hold" from "reduce."
    N Brown said on Tuesday that it would close up to five
Simply Be and Jacamo dual-fascia stores as a result of ongoing
weak footfall in some locations.
    Together, these five stores contributed 5 million pounds to
revenue, but accounted for the entire 2 million pounds operating
loss of N Brown's store estate in full year 2017, it said.
    The retailer expects the process to complete by the end of
August and sees exceptional costs between 10 million pounds to
14 million pounds.
    Shares in N Brown were up 11.5 percent at 316.52 pence at
0753 GMT.

($1 = 0.7889 pounds)

 (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by
Amrutha Gayathri)
 ((noor.hussain@thomsonreuters.com; Within UK +44 20 7542 1810;
Outside UK +91 80 6749 2764; Reuters Messaging:


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