N Brown Group saw continued positive trading momentum and market share gains in the six 26 weeks to 2 Sep. Group revenue was up 5.6% at £453.4m, with product revenue up 7.5% and financial services revenue up 1.1%. The group said its three 'power brands' all delivered a good performance, with Simply Be the standout with revenue growth of 21.0%. And it said that against a subdued backdrop it delivered significant ladieswear market share gains. Product gross margin was 54.0%, down 190bps year on year, as expected, due to the headwind from exchange rate differences year on year affecting the cost of goods sold. It said that as previously guided this impact was first half weighted. Financial Services gross margin was up 150bps, driven by the continuing improvement in the quality of the customer loan book. The group said: 'Our underlying operating costs were well managed, with a good performance in marketing efficiency allowing us to continue to invest in talent. 'Our operating costs were also impacted by IT double running costs, as guided.' Adjusted trading pre-tax profitwas £32.2m, up 1.8% year on year. The statutory loss for the half year of £27.6m related to previously announced exceptional costs of £54.9m and largely related to legacy issues. Chief executive Angela Spindler said: 'I am very pleased to report continued good trading in the half, with Simply Be the standout performer recording 21% growth. 'We made significant ladieswear market share gains against what remains a subdued consumer backdrop. In line with other retailers, FX rates represent a headwind and this was particularly felt this half. 'Our transformation into a flexible, online retailer continues to benefit all aspects of our business and we are today sharing our three growth levers going forwards. 'These are continuing to gain share in the UK, growing internationally and working in partnership with other companies to offer even more choice to our customers. 'At this early stage in the second half, current trading is on track with our plan and we are focused and well prepared for the peak trading period ahead. 'We are confident in our ability to deliver sustainable long-term growth and achieve our international ambitions.'
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