The fashion retailer was bought by South African private equity group Brait for £780m, which resulted in it receiving a valuation of £1.9bn.Anders Kristiansen, CEO of New Look, which has over 800 stores in 21 countries, said at the time that its new owner provided the “perfect platform to continue our strategy of growth the New Look brand in the UK, Europe and China”. With the deal revealed in the middle of the company’s first quarter, New Look has said its revenue rose by 4.3 per cent in the period to reach £369.8m, while UK sales grew by 4.1 per cent. Elsewhere, EBITDA rose two per cent to £61.1m and operating profit rose by 6.8 per cent to £47.3m. The web was a solid channel for sales as its own website experienced a 38.7 per cent trading growth, while third party online transactions grew by 27 per cent. In particular, the mobile site was a powerful platform as sales through it grew by 97 per cent in Q1, which has resulted in it now accounting for half of all web traffic.
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In order to strike while the iron is hot, New Look plans to go beyond its traditional women-centric roots and open five standalone menswear stores this year.The firm claims it follows positive reactions to latest products for men and store concepts, which have seen shops at the likes of Westfield Stratford and Oxford Street fitted with large menswear sections. Research suggests that New Look is right to concentrate on supporting its male audience, as global menswear sales rose by 4.5 per cent in 2014 ahead of 3.7 per cent for womenswear – although the latter is still worth more. “Growth in menswear is fuelled by a greater focus on personal appearance combined with large disposable incomes,” said Magdalena Kondej, head of apparel and footwear research at Euromonitor International. “Globally, men’s annual disposable income is still 50 per cent higher than women’s and while Western markets still spend the most on apparel, future growth is expected to be driven by Asia Pacific.” With Asia Pacific in mind, and in keeping with Kristiansen’s comments when New Look was taken over, China has grown from 19 stores to 39 since the buyout. An additional 40 are set to begin trading in the country by the end of the full year. “These strong results demonstrate New Look’s ongoing progress during a quarter in which we have changed ownership and refinanced the business,” said Kristiansen. “Further UK sales growth is particularly encouraging, whilst our latest successful store openings in China ensure our expansion plans continue on track. Whilst the consumer environment remains unpredictable, we continue to manage the business accordingly.” By Zen Terrelonge
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