N Brown lowers stock levels and fulfilment costs to beat Covid-19 impact

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N Brown, the company behind e-commerce brands JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacamo, said it spent the past six months focusing on lowering stock levels and moving customers towards items with a lower returns rate as it looked to drive down costs.

The business warned investors in September that it saw a ‘sudden and significant’ drop in revenues following the onset of the pandemic in March, that led to a 20.5% fall in product revenues to £224.5 million in the 26 weeks ending 29 August.

N Brown told investors that during the period it made a strategic decision to pivot its customer offer towards Home & Gift, which despite having a lower gross margin also has a much lower returns rate.

It also implemented discounting to clear down older stock, to preserve liquidity. It said that the clearance of older stock was a primary reason why stock levels were materially lower year-on-year.

N Brown also said that its warehouse and fulfilment costs decreased by 24.1% to £30.3 million during the period, driven by efficiencies and lower volume.

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