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Simply Be stars for N Brown but currencies a problem

N Brown made significant gains in the market share for ladieswear despite a subdued consumer backdrop
Ladies clothes
Simple Be sales rose by 21%

A surge in sales at its Simply Be brand was the highlight of retailer N Brown PLC’s (LON:BWNG) first half though margins came under pressure.

Clothing sales at the outsize specialist rose by 7.5% in the half year to August driven by its three power brands, Simply Be, Jacamo and JD Williams.

READ: N Brown shares plunge as annual profits face £40mln hit over 'flawed' insurance products

The three combined saw revenue rise by 14.3% with Simply Be notching up a 21% improvement while online sales were strong across all the ranges.

Margins, though, were affected by currency movements with a 1.9 percentage point drop.

Underlying profits [EBITDA] were flat as a result, at £32.2mln (£31.6mln).

N Brown has undergone a major restructuring under chief executive Angela Spindler and costs incurred meant a pre-tax loss of £27.6mln.

The interim dividend was maintained at 5.67p.

READ: N Brown in fashion as first quarter sales boosted by online performance

Spindler said though Simply Be was the standout performer, N Brown made significant gains in the market share for ladieswaer against what remains a subdued consumer backdrop.

"In line with other retailers, FX rates represent a headwind and this was particularly felt this half," she added.

Second half trading is on track with forecasts.

Shares fell 4% to 337.4p.

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