Figleaves turns first profit in 13 years

Online intimate apparel retailer Figleaves has turned its first profit in 13 years, according to holding company N Brown’s full year results announcement for the year ending March 3, 2012.

Today, it announced profits for the first time of £0.2 million profit versus a loss the previous year of £-1.7million, a movement of £1.9 million.

The luxury etailer, which just appointed new agency Talk PR to manage its publicity, currently drives over 1.2 million customers to its site, each month, delivering to over 100 countries worldwide.

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From June 1, 2011, the business saw several changes, including a dynamic restructure of the senior management team.

Recruiting from within, a new Figleaves board were appointed comprising of Melanie Cottrell, Commercial Director, Sue Herrick, Product & Brand Director and Stephanie Chase, Operations Director.

Figleaves commercial director Melanie Cottrell said: “After a major review of the business, the key to the success of turning the business around was to get control of the cost structure of the business and bring it in line with realistic sales growth in the current market and the size of the business. This was coupled with a large programme of sales driving initiatives.”.

N Brown, which owns brands Figleaves, High & Mighty, Simply Be, Jacamo, Marisota and House of Bath, saw online sales passing the 50 percent share of total sales, following 16 percent growth to £377m, over the year.

Within this period, High & Mighty opened three new stores and significantly reduced its losses to £0.2m while, in the US, Simply Be’s sales increased from £0.8m to £4.8m.

The group also opened two new Simply Be concept stores to test whether a ‘full multichannel operation’ could drive sufficient incremental sales to justify the investment and fixed costs.

Total group revenue increased by 4.8 percent to £753.2m. Excluding the non-comparable periods for newly opened stores, the acquisition of Figleaves and the 53rd week, like-for-like sales grew by 1.6 percent.

Operating profit, or earnings before interest and tax, was slightly down by £0.6m to £102.0m, after absorbing £5.2m of losses on opening the Simply Be concept stores and expanding internationally (2011, £2.3m)

N Brown chairman Lord Alliance of Manchester CBE said: “We are pleased to announce another robust set of results, despite a difficult trading environment where our customers have seen their discretionary income become increasingly hard-pressed. We have continued to focus on our multi-channel strategy, investing in our online trading platform, whilst also expanding our international activities.

“Although we do not expect the market to materially improve, we believe consumer confidence will begin to pick up later this year and we are confident that our strategy will continue to deliver in 2012.”

N Brown chief executive Alan White added: “We have delivered a solid performance for the year, driven by the development of multi-channel trading and new product ranges. The highlights include increased online penetration, strong growth in our younger titles and our expansion into stores and international markets. We are particularly pleased to see Figleaves delivering its first ever profit, good sales growth from High & Mighty and by the performance of our Simply Be, Marisota and Jacamo brands.

“Looking ahead, our multi-channel strategy, combined with our focus on niche customers and products and the flexibility of our business model will look to overcome the challenging macro-economic conditions. The Board remains confident that we will continue to make progress, this year.”

International expansion is a key strategic development for the group looking forward. It will be focussing on the USA, and has already appointed local digital marketing agencies to boost Simply Be’s online recruitment and social media activities in the country.

N Brown will also trial both Marisota and Jacamo, initially on the Simply Be website, and look to boost Figleaves’ international sales.

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