N Brown, the online retailer behind the Jacamo and Simply Be fashion brands, is shutting five of its shops after blaming weakening footfall and soaring business rates in the south east.

The move comes despite the company posting upbeat sales figures for its first quarter, driven by strong online sales of its womenswear brands.

Shares in N Brown were up by 15.5p, or 5.4pc to 300.3p in midday trading.

Chief executive Angela Spindler, who has been spearheading the turnaround of the company from a dated catalogue business to online retailer, said that N Brown would be closing the shops to ensure the business had a profitable store estate.

One of the Simpy Be and Jacamo dual-fascia stores earmarked for closure is its flagship shop on Oxford Street.

“Footfall has softened across the industry and there has been the increase in business rates in the south which have added to the challenges and influenced our decision to close these shops”, said Ms Spindler.

Less than 3pc of N Brown revenues come from its 23 shops, with the rest from online. The company said that the closures will result in one-off costs between £10m and £14m.

N Brown reported a…