Refit plan boosts New Look

UK value fashion brand New Look's revival plan showed signs of gaining momentum today after its half-year earnings climbed by a quarter.

The figure of £86.9m (€108.2m) for the six months to September 22 follows a drive to reduce costs and improve margins, although sales of £710.5m (€884.6m) were still 1.7% lower than a year ago.

In the latest phase of its turnaround plan, New Look has refurbished 66 of its 600-strong UK estate and plans to complete 140 by the end of next financial year as it improves on the presentation of products.

In particular it wants to make more of its collections, including one launched by model Kelly Brook earlier this month.

New Look is also curtailing the need for promotions and sales by strengthening its mix of full-price products and scaling back its stock.

The current sales performance is now showing year on year growth, having fallen by 3.1% in the UK on a like-for-like basis in the half year.

Alistair McGeorge, who was brought into the company last year to reverse its falling sales and profits, said that while he remained cautious about the economic outlook he was confident New Look would continue to build on the growing momentum of the trading performance.

The business, which claims to be the biggest "value" retailer for under 35 women, was founded by current shareholder Tom Singh in 1969.

Its private equity owners Apax and Permira planned to raise around £650m (€809.3m) through a stock market flotation in 2010, but it was shelved amid turmoil in the financial markets.

New Look also reported a sales improvement in its multichannel business which has an online presence in over 121 countries.

The retailer, which employs about 20,000 people in the UK, is also growing its international footprint with plans to open franchise stores in China and India.

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