Jan 7, 2010
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New Look "well placed" for growth

Jan 7, 2010

LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - British budget fashion chain New Look posted solid Christmas trading and said it anticipated further growth in 2010 despite the expectation of a tough economic backdrop.

Photo: www.newlook.co.uk

"Looking ahead, while we remain cautious about consumer spending and expect sentiment to remain subdued, we are well placed to continue our growth and build upon our current success," said Chief Executive Carl McPhail.

The retailer, which has said it is considering a possible stock market return as one of a number of options, said on Thursday 7 January its total sales increased 14.4 percent in the 14 weeks to Jan. 2.

It said sales at UK stores open over a year rose by 5.9 percent, and said UK gross margins were "robust" and its cash position "strong".

New Look trades from 1,012 shops, of which 603 are in the UK. It has stores in France, Belgium and franchise businesses in the Middle East and Russia.

New Look was taken private in 2004 for 699 million pounds by founder Tom Singh and private equity firms Permira [PERM.UL] and Apax [APAX.UL]. An attempt to sell the business in 2007 was abandoned after they failed to achieve a high enough price.

Last month an industry source told Reuters that New Look had picked banks to handle a possible initial public offering (IPO) and a decision would be taken in the new year.

Some newspapers have said a flotation could value the fast-growing business at about 1.7 billion pounds.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Paul Sandle)

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