20 January 2022
Q3 TRADING UPDATE FOR THE 18 WEEKS TO 1 JANUARY 2022
Strong peak performance in Clothing & Footwear with continued growth in strategic brands
· 5.5% growth in product revenue from strategic brands
· Strong performance from Clothing & Footwear through peak trading; Home & Gift lower year-on-year against tough lockdown comparatives
· Returned to year-on-year growth in active customers
· Financial Services revenue trajectory steadily improving
· Appointment of Digital Chief Operating Officer
Continued growth in strategic brands
Change Q3 FY22 v Q3 FY211
Change FY22 YTD v FY21 YTD1
Financial Services revenue
Q3 FY22 is the 18 weeks to 1 January 2022; FY22 YTD is the 44 weeks to 1 January 2022.
1. FY21 restated for the value added tax element on customer debt written off, previously reported within Revenue rather than being offset against Cost of Sales (refer to Prior Year Adjustment, note 32, in the FY21 Annual Report and Accounts). FY21 is also adjusted to reflect the actual returns performance by quarter, as reflected in the FY21 results.
2. JD Williams, Simply Be, Ambrose Wilson, Jacamo and Home Essentials.
3. Other brands are Fashion World, Marisota, Oxendales and Premier Man. High & Mighty and House of Bath were folded into Strategic brands in FY21. Figleaves was closed in March 2021 and is now sold on Simply Be.
Q3 product revenue reflects the continued growth in the five strategic brands of +5.5% on Q3 FY21, offset by the managed decline of our legacy other brands, which now represent less than 20% of product revenue. Excluding the impact of the closure of the Figleaves website in March 2021, Q3 FY22 product revenue was slightly ahead of the prior year and FY22 YTD was up c. 5%.
We entered the peak trading period well prepared, with good product availability, and successfully managed the ongoing global supply chain challenges. Clothing & Footwear continued its resurgence into Q3, with growth of +18%, including increased demand for dresses, formalwear and outerwear, demonstrating the appeal of our strengthened product offer. This was offset by a reduction in Home & Gift of 19% where we annualised against periods of high demand driven by lockdown in the prior year and saw a softer online home market than previously expected. Additionally, we have seen a naturally higher returns rate as the product mix has moved back into Clothing & Footwear, and particularly into higher returning segments such as dresses. Returns rates, however, are c. 3ppts lower than pre-pandemic levels, inclusive of the benefit from the stronger product offer.
Total active customers have returned to year-on-year growth, reflecting both improved customer retention rates and new customer acquisition. Total active customers ended the period at 2.91m (Q3 FY21: 2.87m), with Simply Be and Jacamo at record levels.
The trajectory of Financial Services revenue steadily improved during the period with a 3.0% year-on-year reduction in Q3 reflecting the smaller debtor book at the start of the financial year. Customer behaviour is gradually returning to pre-Covid levels and we continue to see the benefits of offering our customers a well-managed, flexible credit product.
Robust balance sheet positions us well for the future
At 1 January 2022 the Group had unsecured net cash of £33.5m. The RCF of £100.0m and overdraft of £12.5m are both fully undrawn. The securitisation facility was voluntarily underdrawn by £49.9m and can be redrawn if required. Using cash balances to offset the securitisation facility is delivering greater balance sheet efficiency and interest savings, whilst the facility remains available for drawing.
Digital Chief Operating Officer joins Executive management team
The Executive management team has been refreshed over the last two years as the business continues its transformation, and in November we appointed Nuno Miller to lead our technology teams. Nuno is overseeing the ongoing digital transformation across the Group including the development of new front-end websites. Nuno joined from the multinational fashion group, Sonae Fashion, where he was the Chief Digital and Information Officer.
FY22 outlook and guidance
The Q3 strategic brands growth was in the context of a softer online home market, resulting in FY22 YTD group revenue of -1.7%, slightly behind our previous expectations for the full year of broadly flat.
For full year FY22 we expect to report Adjusted EBITDA4 between £93m and £96m, which is at the lower end of our previously guided range, reflecting the online market conditions and a slightly higher level of project spend now being expensed rather than capitalised.
Net interest costs continue to improve and are now expected to be c.£14m. Depreciation and amortisation is expected to be favourable to that previously guided at c.£39m.
We expect capex of c.£22m, lower than previous guidance, net of the project spend now being expensed rather than capitalised.
At the end of FY22 we expect the Group to have a strong unsecured net cash position with net debt anticipated to improve on previous guidance and be in the range of £260m to £265m.
The Board remains confident in achieving the Group's medium-term objective of delivering sustainable profitable growth.
4. Adjusted EBITDA is defined as operating profit, excluding exceptional items, with depreciation and amortisation added back
Steve Johnson, Chief Executive, said:
"The business has performed resiliently over the peak period and our colleagues have worked tirelessly to deliver for customers in challenging circumstances.
Against the backdrop of Covid uncertainty, a volatile consumer environment and well-documented supply chain issues, the continued growth of our strategic brands has been particularly pleasing, as has a return to growth in active customers. We are now seeing more people than ever shopping with Simply Be and Jacamo. JD Williams is also resonating well with customers, particularly on the back of our successful partnerships with Amanda Holden and Davina McCall.
We have continued to execute on our plan and, looking ahead, will continue our strategic investment to transform the business, supported by a robust balance sheet and a strengthened executive team."
A conference call will be held at 8:30am today for analysts and investors. To register for access, please contact MHP Communications on +44 (0) 20 3128 8193 or email [email protected]
For further information:
N Brown Group
David Fletcher, Head of Investor Relations
+44 (0)7876 111242
Simon Hockridge / Charles Hirst
+44 (0) 20 3128 8789
Shore Capital - Nomad and Broker
Dru Danford / Stephane Auton / Daniel Bush / John More
+44 (0) 20 7408 4090
About N Brown Group:
N Brown is a top 10 UK clothing & footwear digital retailer. Our retail brands are JD Williams, Simply Be, Jacamo, Ambrose Wilson and Home Essentials and our financial services proposition allows customers to spread the cost of shopping with us. We are headquartered in Manchester where we design, source and create our product offer and we employ over 1,800 people across the UK.