Flotation makes pounds 120m for the man who tailored New Look

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The Independent Online
TOM SINGH, whose stake in the New Look fashion chain will be worth pounds 120m when it comes to the stock market next month, paid himself pounds 10m in salary and bonuses over the past five years, according to the group's pathfinder prospectus published yesterday. This is in addition to the pounds 170m he and his family received from selling a controlling stake in the business to venture capital backers three years ago.

Mr Singh, the son of Asian immigrants who came to Britain in the 1940s, received remuneration of pounds 1.3m in 1994, then pounds 2.9m, pounds 4.3m, pounds 584,000 and pounds 557,000 in the following years. His average annual salary of almost pounds 2m over that period would have made him one of Britain's best-paid retailers with a salary far higher than his counterparts at larger publicly quoted companies such as Tesco and Kingfisher. "He has made a lot of money out of the company, but then it was a private business and doing very well," a spokesman said.

Mr Singh founded New Look from a single shop in 1969 and has built it to a chain of 444 stores with sales of pounds 323m.

Mr Singh's pay will fall to pounds 235,000 following flotation where he will take the role of managing director, commercial. Jim Hodkinson, who joined the business last month from B&Q, will be the highest paid director, on pounds 450,000.

The salary details emerged as New Look reported operating profits of pounds 40m for the year to March, up from pounds 33m the previous year. Sales rose from pounds 242m to pounds 332m. It said like-for-like sales in current trading are 8 per cent on the same period last year.

On flotation New Look is expected to be valued at around pounds 300m-pounds 350m. The float will raise pounds 82m, which will be used to redeem preference shares and repay cent.

Mr Singh will retain his 30 per cent stake and is selling no shares. Thirty per cent of the business is being offered for sale through a placing and intermediaries offer.

Analysts say the valuation will equate to a share price of 150-175p. This will mean a forward rating of 10-12, a substantial discount to the retail sector. "At that sort of price I would think it would very well," said one analyst.

New Look has 409 UK outlets and plans to open a further 140. It abandoned its first attempt at flotation in 1994 due to volatile stock market conditions and concerns about the group's rapid growth.