GRA­HAM HISCOTT New Look to slash prices Firm in shake-up as losses soar

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - FINANCE -

STRUG­GLING New Look has re­vealed the scale of the bat­tle it faces as it ramped up a fight­back plan.

Bosses vowed to re­turn the loss­mak­ing chain to its bud­get “fast fash­ion” roots, with 80% of clothes go­ing on sale for un­der £20.

It has be­gun by shak­ing up its sup­ply chain, how it buys stock, plus gain­ing ap­proval to close 60 stores and slash­ing the rents on 393 oth­ers.

Ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Alis­tair Mcge­orge, who was brought back to run the busi­ness last au­tumn, said he was “now see­ing green shoots emerge”.

But New Look’s an­nual re­port, which came out yes­ter­day, also ex­posed the dire state of its fi­nances.

The firm’s losses bal­looned from £16.6mil­lion to £234.2m in the year to March 24.

Sales tum­bled 7.3% to £1.35bil­lion, with tak­ings in the UK down 11.7%.

Even its web­site sales, nor­mally a bright spot for re­tail­ers, crashed 19.2%.

An­other con­cern is the firm’s near £1.3bn of debt, built up un­der pri­vate eq­uity own­er­ship. It grew by £120m last year and sucked nearly £82m out of the busi­ness in in­ter­est pay­ments.

The loss was wors­ened by £34.2m of one-off costs, in­clud­ing get­ting shot of clear­ance stock and ditch­ing plans to move to a new Lon­don HQ.

The turn­around plan also in­cludes pro­duc­ing more wardrobe ba­sics and ex­tend­ing its ap­peal to women aged over 34.

Mcge­orge said: “Since Novem­ber, we have fo­cused on mak­ing the nec­es­sary changes to get the com­pany back on track.”

The shake-up should also lead to £70m a year of sav­ings.

But New Look’s an­nual re­port said: “While the cost sav­ing ini­tia­tives will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the fi­nan­cial re­sults of the group, there will be chal­lenges over the group’s abil­ity to con­tinue as a go­ing con­cern if it is not able to im­prove the trad­ing per­for­mance.”

STRI­DENT Fast fash­ion is cru­cial, says New Look On­line firm Boohoo

ri­vals weeping af­ter post­ing a 53% surge in sales.

Known for its edgy de­signs, the firm – which fea­tures Spurs’ Dele Alli (right) in its new ad cam­paign – raked in £183mil­lion in the three months to the end of May. Its off­shoot Pretty Lit­tle Thing saw tak­ings rise 158% to nearly

£80m. Shares in trendy fash­ion firm Ted Baker tum­bled yes­ter­day af­ter it posted weaker then ex­pected re­sults.

The firm, which has nor­mally done well as ri­vals suf­fered, an­nounced a 4.2% rise in sales for the past 19 weeks.

But the in­crease was fu­elled by its whole­sale arm and open­ing more stores.

Shares in the com­pany fell more than 1.7%.

Lind­say Page, the com­pany’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, said it was “right to be cau­tious”.

The bosses of Sainsbury’s and Asda are to be quizzed by MPS over their £12bil­lion merger. Sainsbury’s chief Mike Coupe and Asda’s Roger Burn­ley will ap­pear be­fore the En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs Com­mit­tee next Wed­nes­day.

They will an­swer ques­tions on how the pro­posed deal will im­pact farm­ers, sup­pli­ers and shop­pers.

The merger would cre­ate a ti­tan big­ger than Tesco, with an­nual sales of £51bn and 2,800 stores.

QUIZ Coupe, left, and Burn­ley to face MPS

DIP Ted shares fell 1.7%

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