New Look ends ‘mad­ness’ and stead­ies sales

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Ash­ley Arm­strong

NEW LOOK has put the brakes on its down­ward sales spi­ral af­ter call­ing an end to the “com­mer­cial mad­ness” of its pre­vi­ous man­age­ment and curb­ing on­line pro­mo­tions.

The fash­ion chain recorded a 4.2pc slip in sales to £656.9m in the six months to Sept 22, com­pared to a 4.5pc fall last year. Like-for-like sales were down just 3.7pc ver­sus 8.6pc in 2017.

New Look said the re­sults re­flected progress in its on­go­ing turn­around plan, with bet­ter sales and prof­itabil­ity in wom­enswear help­ing to out­per­form the wider fash­ion mar­ket by 5.6pc. How­ever, lack­lus­tre busi­ness.

The com­pany made un­der­ly­ing op­er­at­ing prof­its of £22.2m, com­pared to a loss of £10.4m last year, helped by £70m of cost sav­ings.

Alis­tair McGe­orge, who was parachuted in as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man last year fol­low­ing the abrupt de­par­ture of An­ders Kris­tiansen, said: “New Look has never been a bad busi­ness, it just went in the wrong di­rec­tion as a re­sult of be­ing badly man­aged.”

Mr McGe­orge said he had stopped of­fer­ing free de­liv­ery to on­line shop­pers, adding: “We’ve chal­lenges re­main in its footwear and ac­ces­sories ended the com­mer­cial mad­ness that was go­ing on whereby we would pay to re­cruit the shop­per and then give half­price de­liv­er­ies.”

A re­newed fo­cus on prof­itable growth has meant a shift away from New Look’s old ob­ses­sion with teenage shop­pers to­wards us­ing its vast high street es­tate to ap­peal to older women. By ramp­ing up its click and col­lect ser­vice, New Look hopes to lure shop­pers into stores to buy more.

Fall­ing sales have prompted South African-owned New Look to shut some stores. It is in the process of clos­ing 85 and there is un­cer­tainty over 39 more, but it still has nearly 600 in the UK.

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