N Brown Group

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
N Brown Group plc
Public (LSEBWNG)
Founded 1859; 159 years ago (1859)
Headquarters Manchester, England
Key people
Matt Davies (Chairman)
Angela Spindler (CEO)
Revenue £922.2 million (2018)[1]
£90.5 million (2018)[1]
£12.5 million (2018)[1]
Website www.nbrown.co.uk

N Brown Group plc (LSEBWNG) is an online retailer headquartered in Manchester, England. N Brown offers a range of products, predominantly clothing, footwear and homewares with a focus on underserved customer groups. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange.


The oldest company within the group - JD Williams & Company Ltd - was founded by James David Williams in 1859 when he started in business operating three mobile shops.[2] In 1882, he took advantage of the introduction of UK's parcel post service,[3] to send his company's products direct to his customers. In 1907, JD Williams instructed architect R Argile to build Langley Buildings in a baroque style on Dale Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter: this building still stands today.[4]

In 1963, All Williams' family shares were bought by Cooper-Taymil Ltd (a subsidiary of Alliance Brothers Ltd. owned by Lord David Alliance CBE and Sir Nigel Alliance OBE) and placed in holding company N Brown Investments. In 1970, N Brown Group acquired JD Williams shares along with mail-order catalogues Ambrose Wilson and Oxendales.[5]

In 1986, N Brown Investments acquired the JD Williams group in a reverse takeover to secure a public quotation. The company name was changed to N Brown Group plc.[6]

In 2004, the business moved to new premises on Lever Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter.[7]

Lord Alliance stepped down as chairman in 2012 with Andrew Higginson joining that September.[8]

In 2014, N Brown outsourced 550 contact centre roles to Serco.[9] That year it also issued two profit warnings within six months.[10]

Angela Spindler joined as Chief Executive in 2013, succeeding Alan White, who had been in the top job since 1984.[11]

In 2018, Matt Davies was announced as the new chairman of N Brown Group.[12]

Financial hits[edit]

In 2017, shares fell by as much as 9pc when N Brown announced it was facing a £40m hit after finding issues with a credit insurance product it sold to customers between 2006 and 2014, responding to a crackdown by the Financial Conduct Authority.[13]


In 1999, Simply Be was launched to cater for women aged 25 - 45 in sizes 12 - 32 and has been a vocal champion of size inclusivity.[14]

In 2007, Jacamo was launched, catering for 25 - 45 year old men of all body shapes, from small to 5XL. Former cricketer Freddie Flintoff is a key brand ambassador.[15]

In 2018, JD Williams rebranded to become JD Williams: The Life Store, positioning the brand as a modern online department store for the 45 – 60 year old woman.[16]

Fashion World, Figleaves, Marisota, High & Mighty, Ambrose Wilson, Premier Man, Julipa and House of Bath are also operated by N Brown as well as the Ireland-based Oxendales. Simply Be and JD Williams also have US websites.[17]

The company bought online underwear retailer Figleaves for £11.5 million in 2010.[18]


Simply Be, Jacamo and High & Mighty operate bricks & mortar stores throughout the UK. The company announced it was closing five loss-making stores in 2017.[19][20]


In September 2017, N Brown donated £50,000 to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital following the Manchester Arena bombing.[21]


The business has its operational Head Office in Manchester's Northern Quarter and has warehousing and distribution centres in Shaw and Crompton, in Greater Manchester, and Hadfield in Derbyshire. House of Bath is based in Bath, Oxendales is based in Dublin and Figleaves is based in Welwyn Garden City.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2018" (PDF). N Brown Group. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  2. ^ "History of N Brown". N Brown Careers website. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  3. ^ "History of Mail Coaches". The Postal Museum. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Manchester: The Warehouse Legacy". Historic England. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  5. ^ "UK: N Brown's outsize appeal". Management Today. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  6. ^ "N Brown Group PLC". Companies House. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  7. ^ "N Brown targets City Cube site". Manchester Evening News. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Lord Alliance to step down from N Brown". Financial Times. 3 July 2012.
  9. ^ "JD Williams reveals it is outsourcing contact centre jobs to Serco". Manchester Evening News. 14 October 2014.
  10. ^ "N Brown issues second profit warning in less than six months". The Guardian. 11 March 2015.
  11. ^ "N Brown names Angela Spindler as new CEO". Reuters. 21 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Former Tesco UK boss to chair retail company N Brown". The Telegraph. 18 February 2018.
  13. ^ "N Brown shares fall after £40m hit on insurance products". The Telegraph. 13 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Plus-Size Models Staged a Protest During London Fashion Week: 'Where Are the Curves?'". Glamour. 16 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff signs up to design Jacamo range for N Brown". The Telegraph. 11 July 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  16. ^ "JD Williams unveils multi-million pound advertising". Manchester Evening News. 25 September 2017.
  17. ^ "JD Williams - US". Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  18. ^ a b "N Brown buys Figleaves for £11.5m". The Independent. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  19. ^ "N Brown to close up to five loss-making stores". Financial Times. 20 June 2017.
  20. ^ "N Brown to close five stores". Drapers online. 20 June 2018.
  21. ^ "N Brown Group donates £50,000 to children's hospital after Manchester Arena attack". Manchester Evening News. 12 September 2017.

External links[edit]