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.

N Brown Group plc
Company typePublic
ISINGB00B1P6ZR11 Edit this on Wikidata
Founded1859; 165 years ago (1859)
HeadquartersManchester, England
Key people
Ron McMillan (Chairman)
Steve Johnson (CEO)
RevenueDecrease £715.7 million (2022)[1]
Increase £56.9 million (2022)[1]
Increase £16.2 million (2022)[1]



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 a holding company, N Brown Investments, (founded by Nathan Brown in 1964 and acquired by David Alliance in 1968). 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]

The company bought online underwear retailer Figleaves for £11.5 million in 2010.[8]

Lord Alliance stepped down as chairman in 2012 with Andrew Higginson joining that September.[9]

In 2014, N Brown outsourced 550 contact centre roles to Serco.[10] That year it also issued two profit warnings within six months.[11]

Angela Spindler joined as Chief Executive in 2013, succeeding Alan White, who had been in the top job since 1984.[12]

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 2018, Matt Davies was announced as the new chairman of N Brown Group.[14]

In 2020, N Brown took a range of actions to retain cash after sales fell by 40%.[15] It established a £50 million three-year lending facility under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme supported by borrowers. It also broadened curtained covenants in its existing £125 million unsecured revolving credit facility in anticipation of the half-year test date of August 2020.[16]

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lock down, the company suffered a sharp decline in revenue in March 2020 and then, in August 2020, suspended its dividend for the financial year ending in February 2021.[17]



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. [18]

In 2007, Jacamo was launched, catering for 25 - 45-year-old men of all body shapes, from small to 5XL. Former cricketer Freddie Flintoff was recently a key brand ambassador.[19]

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.[20]

Home Essentials, Fashion World, Marisota, Ambrose Wilson and Premier Man are also operated by N Brown as well as the Ireland-based Oxendales.



Simply Be, Jacamo and High & Mighty operated bricks & mortar stores throughout the UK until 2018. The company announced it was closing five loss-making stores in 2017[21][22] and, after announcing, in June 2018, that it was proposing to close all bricks and mortar stores, the company had completely implemented that decision by August 2018.[23]



In September 2017, N Brown donated £50,000 to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital following the Manchester Arena bombing.[24]



The business has its operational Head Office in Manchester's Northern Quarter and has warehousing and distribution centres in Oldham, in Greater Manchester, and Glossop in Derbyshire.[25]


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2022" (PDF). N Brown Group. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  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. ^ "N Brown buys Figleaves for £11.5m". The Independent. 16 June 2010. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Lord Alliance to step down from N Brown". Financial Times. 3 July 2012.
  10. ^ "JD Williams reveals it is outsourcing contact centre jobs to Serco". Manchester Evening News. 14 October 2014.
  11. ^ "N Brown issues second profit warning in less than six months". The Guardian. 11 March 2015.
  12. ^ "N Brown names Angela Spindler as new CEO". Reuters. 21 January 2013.
  13. ^ "N Brown shares fall after £40m hit on insurance products". The Telegraph. 13 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Former Tesco UK boss to chair retail company N Brown". The Telegraph. 18 February 2018.
  15. ^ Whiterow, Philip (23 March 2020). "N Brown takes emergency action after sales drop 40% in a week". Proactive Investors. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  16. ^ Ord, Matthew (19 May 2020). "N Brown Group Strikes New Financing Arrangements". Insider Media. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Pain now for N Brown Group as profits slide, but digital investment is starting to pay off". Internet Retailing. 25 June 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Plus-Size Models Staged a Protest During London Fashion Week: 'Where Are the Curves?'". Glamour. 16 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff signs up to design Jacamo range for N Brown". The Telegraph. 11 July 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  20. ^ "JD Williams unveils multi-million pound advertising". Manchester Evening News. 25 September 2017.
  21. ^ "N Brown to close up to five loss-making stores". Financial Times. 20 June 2017.
  22. ^ "N Brown to close five stores". Drapers online. 20 June 2018.
  23. ^ "N Brown Group's shares drop over 20% amid interim results". Retail Gazette. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  24. ^ "N Brown Group donates £50,000 to children's hospital after Manchester Arena attack". Manchester Evening News. 12 September 2017.
  25. ^ "14forty wins multi-million-pound catering contract with N Brown Group". The Caterer. 27 July 2022. Retrieved 13 September 2022.