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UPDATE 1-UK's N Brown tells investors don't bracket firm with ASOS
June 18, 2014 / 10:16 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-UK's N Brown tells investors don't bracket firm with ASOS

* Shares down 8 pct since ASOS profit warning

* Q1 total sales up 2.6 pct, like-for-like sales up 2.5 pct

* Says sales in last 6 weeks of period improved significantly (Recasts, adds detail, CEO, analyst comment shares)

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - British plus-size clothing home-shopping group N Brown said investors should not compare the firm with internet fashion retailer ASOS, which warned on profit this month, dragging down online retailing stocks.

Shares in N Brown, which makes over half its sales online, have lost 8 percent since the warning, while ASOS has shed more than a quarter of its value.

“For us particularly we seemed to take a bit of a hit when ASOS took a very large hit,” N Brown Chief Executive Angela Spindler said on Wednesday.

“If you look at our business we are an online retailer which is extremely profitable,” she said, pointing to a 2013-14 pretax profit of 100 million pounds ($168 million) on sales of 835 million pounds.

“That’s a really strong performance and is very different from the ASOS model, which is a bit more about the top line than the bottom line.”

Spindler was speaking after the website and catalogue group posted a 2.5 percent rise in underlying sales for the 15 weeks to June 14, its fiscal first quarter.

It said sales in the last six weeks of the quarter had improved significantly, being up in the “high single digits”.

The Manchester, northern England, based firm, which targets older and plus-sized shoppers with brands such as JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo, is being revamped by Spindler, who succeeded Alan White as CEO last July.

She has reduced N Brown’s range of low margin electrical items, introduced a cash payment option for customers, changed the phasing of marketing spend and is planning a re-launch of JD Williams, the firm’s biggest brand.

N Brown is increasing the number of stores it has from nine to 25, including a flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.

The firm is also seeking a slice of the $6 billion U.S. market for “fashion focused larger sized females” with its Simply Be brand. First quarter sales in the U.S. rose 15 percent.

Shares in N Brown were down 3.3 percent at 421 pence at 0945 GMT, valuing the business at 1.19 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton and Louise Heavens)

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