StockMarketWire.com - Multi-channel, specialist fit fashion retailer N Brown Group's underlying pre-tax profits fell by 2% to GBP84.5m in the year to 27 February.

The group said this was in line with forecasts and second half underlying pre-tax profits were up 11% at GBP49.5m.

Total group revenue rose 3.5% to GBP866.2m. Product revenue increased by 4.1% and financial services revenue was up 2.1%.

Product gross margin -20bps, at the top end of guidance, and Financial Services gross margin +20bps.

Other highlights:

- Statutory profit before tax -7.8% to £72.2m (FY15: £78.3m), reflecting exceptional costs largely incurred in the first half - Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations 24.02p (FY15: 24.61p) - Statutory earnings per share from continuing operations 19.45p (FY15: 21.84p) - Proposed final dividend flat year on year at 8.56p, taking full year dividend to 14.23p, also unchanged on last year Chief executive Angela Spindler said: "It has been a very busy year for N Brown as we continue to transform the way we operate as a fashion retailer - from being mail-order led, to a business that puts digital first. We are mid-way through this journey and are delighted to see the benefits coming through, importantly delivering 11% profit growth in the second half of the year.



"This progress is being driven by a clear focus on our three fashion Power Brands - JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo. Revenue from these brands is up 10% year-on-year and almost two-thirds of sales are now online, reflecting our digital focus. We are taking decisive actions to improve the performance of our Traditional segment which remains an important, profitable part of the Group.



"We continue to roll-out our systems investment programme, 'Fit 4 the Future', and all areas of the business are focused on ensuring this lands on time and with minimal disruption. So far we are very pleased with our progress and we remain on track and within budget.



"Looking forward, whilst we face challenging market conditions for the fashion sector overall, and trading since the year end has been subdued, we remain confident in our ability to make further progress this year. This is based on the strong appeal of our specialist fit proposition, continuous improvement in the customer experience and changes in customer shopping behaviour, driven by targeted marketing."











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