Retail veteran to chair New Look as it prepares IPO

John Gildersleeve will replace Phil Wrigley at the fashion retailer in January
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The Independent Online

The fashion retailer New Look further paved the way for its flotation next year by appointing John Gildersleeve as its new chairman.

Mr Gildersleeve, who is currently non-executive chairman at the mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse, will join the 1,000-store plus retailer in January. Phil Wrigley, the highly regarded current chairman, will step down at the end of the year after nine years at New Look.

Mr Gildersleeve's appointment comes a day after it emerged that New Look had appointed investment banks – JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse – to deliver one of the most high-profile and lucrative IPOs of 2010.

Carl McPhail, the New Look chief executive, said: "John has extensive experience as a board director of international businesses, and we are very excited that he is joining our team. This announcement marks part of a planned transition in the next phase of New Look's development."

He thanked Mr Wrigley for his "significant and valued contribution" at New Look over nearly 10 years, during which time the retailer was taken private in 2004 by private equity firms Permira and Apax in a £699m deal. Mr Wrigley joined the fashion retailer in 2000, became chief executive in 2004 and then chairman in April 2008.

New Look, which has 626 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, has cemented its place as one of the most-powerful young fashion retailers during the recession. In the year to 29 March, its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose by 10.2 per cent to £217.6m, on group sales up 14.9 per cent to £1.3bn.

New Look, which has shops in 30 countries including Singapore, Russia and France, as well as the the Middle East, was recently reported to have laid out plans for a further 670 stores globally.

Mr Gildersleeve, who is also a non-executive director of the property giant British Land, made his name at Tesco. He joined the grocery giant in 1965, was appointed to the board in 1984 and was commercial and trading director until February 2004. Yesterday, he said: "I am excited to be joining New Look, a vibrant and leading fashion retailer with a great brand and an impressive track record. The company has exciting growth potential, both in the UK and abroad, and I look forward to working closely with Carl and his team to help achieve this."

Mr Gildersleeve will remain as a non-executive director at Carphone Warehouse after the retailer splits into two in March. Charles Dunstone, the chief executive of Carphone, will become chairman of the two businesses: Talk Talk, its broadband arm, and Carphone Warehouse, which will take 50 per cent of the revenues from its retail joint venture with Best Buy Europe.