Founder takes reins at New Look as CEO exits

The chief executive and chairman of New Look are both quitting, following a dire year during which the company pulled a £1.8bn flotation, faced a damning investigation by Channel 4, posted tumbling sales and suffered disruption by moving head office staff from Weymouth to London.

In a terse statement, New Look said that Carl McPhail had "resigned" from the board with "immediate effect" and that John Gildersleeve, its non-executive chairman since January 2010, intended to "retire" to focus on his "other business interests".

Tom Singh, who founded New Look in 1969 and still holds a 22.4 per cent stake, has returned to the retailer as interim chief executive.

Industry sources suggested that New Look's private equity owners, Apax and Permira, which own 27 per cent each of the fashion chain, are likely to have forced the resignation of Mr McPhail.

New Look, which has 1,044 stores globally, had wanted to float the business for £1.8bn in early 2010, but pulled the IPO (initial public offering) in February, blaming "volatile" stock market conditions.

Most recently, New Look said its UK like-for-like sales tumbled by 9.1 per cent for the 15 weeks to 8 January. This followed the chain posting a 4.5 per cent fall in UK underlying sales for the half-year to 25 September. Both figures are likely to have hit New Look's profits hard for the year to the end of this month. On Mr McPhail's departure, Nick Bubb, the analyst at Arden Partners, said: "The buck stops at the top. There is a huge profit shortfall [this year] and someone has to take the blame. It is as simple as that. It appears to be time for a change. It is a little bit unfair but life is unfair."

New Look, which has 606 UK shops, would probably have suffered at least two profit warnings by now if it had floated.

Matthew McEachran, an analyst at Singer Capital Markets, said: "They would probably have been pumped up for an IPO. A lot of people would have been disappointed and morale must have fallen quite a bit."

While New Look suffered weak trading last year, other value fashion chains are likely to have found the going tough due to pressure on consumer spending. One source said that New Look's sales were now probably "back in the pack" with the likes of Peacocks, Matalan and Primark, which on 28 February reported a slowdown in UK sales since the first week of January.

Mr McEachran said: "The reality is that through the course of this year we have heard that the value end of the market has traded poorly."

In November, Mr McPhail was forced defend its supplier policy following Channel 4's Dispatches programme, "Fashion's Dirty Secret", which showed the appalling conditions endured by some workers making clothes for the retailer, as well as some rival chains, at a factory used by a subcontractor of one of New Look's suppliers.

Mr McPhail said it was "disappointing" as earlier in 2010 it "banned" all suppliers from using the Imperial Typewriter Building, where the subcontractor Sammi Leisurewear is based. New Look instructed Ernst & Young to carry out an investigation into the findings of the programme, which is still ongoing. Mr McPhail also spoke of the "disruption" from New Look moving its buying and merchandising team from Weymouth to London in the first half of 2010.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Chief Financial Officer

120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?