New Look ready to float again after strong festive sales

Across the UK, 319 stores have been overhauled

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The Independent Online

The high street fashion chain New Look could be ready to rejoin the stock market after an 11-year absence, according to its chief executive.

Anders Kristiansen said: “We’ve demonstrated that in tough periods we continue to perform well, so I think this business is a business that’s ready [to float].”

He added that any final decision would have to be made by New Look’s private equity owners, Apax and Permira.

Sales dipped 1.6 per cent to £399.9m after unseasonably warm autumn weather, but Mr Kristiansen said they had picked up over Christmas, rising 4.1 per cent in the seven weeks to 3 January.

“I was running through Hyde Park in October and people were sunbathing, which isn’t helpful when you want to sell parkas,” he added.

But once the weather turned in December, sales recovered, with mobile sales overtaking laptop and desktop sales for the first time.

Mr Kristiansen said: “We’ve always had lots of traffic on our mobile sites but they’ve not really been converted into sales. I think that’s the same for many retailers but we’ve invested heavily in mobile.”

He added that 36 per cent of all orders were for collecting in store and online sales were up 28.6 per cent on last year.

Like-for-like sales in the UK were down 1 per cent in the 13 weeks to 27 December but have grown by 4.6 per cent in the first nine months of the financial year.

 

Across the UK, 319 stores have been overhauled as the retailer hopes to fight off tough competition from Primark and Next, and Mr Kristiansen said chequered dresses, shirts and trousers have been flying off the shelves.

The company’s overseas business is also performing strongly, according to Mr Kristiansen, who said he hopes to increase the number of stores in China from 18 to 48 by the end of the next financial year.

New Look has been running its Chinese stores as a solo venture. Typically, international retailers try to break into China with a local partner. But Mr Kristiansen knows the market, having worked in the Far East for Staples and Bestseller Fashion Group.

New Look’s owners have been hoping to bring the company to market since 2010, when they were thwarted by tough market conditions.

There had been suggestions the company could be listed last year. However, a glut of flotations left investors weary as share prices at some companies plummeted. As a result New Look said it was right to continue waiting.

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