New Look sales recover after image overhaul

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The Independent Online

New Look, the beleaguered fashion retailer, is beginning to reap the reward of an image overhaul, with sales up in the last few weeks of trading, the company said yesterday.

Stephen Sunnucks, who took over as chief executive a year ago, emphasised the positive trend in recent weeks while acknowledging that last year's track record was not good. In the 12 months ending 24 March, like-for-like sales were 2 per cent down and pre-tax profit fell by 29 per cent to £34m. The company's shares were unchanged at 76.5p because New Look had alerted the market to the fall in earnings.

Mr Sunnucks said: "In the last five or six weeks there were some signs that the ranges were trading at full price." The evidence of an upturn was reflected in the company's growth in margins, up 3.2 per cent from last year.

In total, New Look has downgraded its profits forecasts three times since last May, hit by a slump in sales and the blow to its credibility caused by the loss of its former chief executive, Jim Hodkinson.

Mr Sunnucks said his target now was to refurbish many of New Look's 480 shops and relocate 144 of them to larger premises, as part of a £100m investment over the next five years.