N Brown closure plan puts close to 300 jobs at risk

Weak high street footfall is the reason for the drastic review process
Weak high street footfall is the reason for the drastic review process

Multi-brand retail group N Brown is set to close 20 stores, putting 270 jobs in doubt.

The group, which owns JD Williams and Simply Be, entered into a consultation with staff on Thursday, saying that weak footfall on the high street meant it had to close stores.

The consultation concerns 12 dual-brand Simply Be and Jacamo outlets, as well as eight High and Mighty stores.

The company operates a combined Simply Be and Jacomo store at CastleCourt in Belfast which it confirmed was part of the consultation process.

It expects to incur a one-off cash cost of between £18 million and £22m if it closes all 20 stores.

The outlets affected will be shut ahead of their lease expiry date and bring in around 2% of N Brown’s revenues, generating £15m in the 2018 financial year.

“In line with our online strategy, and given continued weak high street footfall, we have today commenced a consultation process with colleagues over the future of our small store estate,” said CEO Angela Spindler.

“This action has not been taken lightly and we will do all we can to support the colleagues affected during this process.”

For the 13 weeks to June 2, N Brown’s revenue from its retail brands fell 2.8%. JD Williams’ sales fell 2%, while Simply Be and Jacamo’s sales rose by 9.3% and 2% respectively.