The Business On... Alistair McGeorge, Executive Chairman, New Look

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The Independent Online

Fashion's Mr Fix It?

You're not far off. The former chief executive of Matalan was parachuted in as executive chairman in April to steady the ship at New Look, which has more than 1,000 stores globally. This followed a crisis at the chain, which pulled a flotation last year, saw profits wiped out, and parted company with its chief executive and chairman in March.

Why is he in the news?

Well, it appears that Mr McGeorge has helped put New Look on an even keel, as it has finally started a search for a new chief executive. New Look has appointed Odgers Berndtson, the headhunter firm, to find a new leader for the retailer, which was founded by Tom Singh in 1969.

He'll be off then?

No clues yet on Mr McGeorge's role after a new chief executive arrives. New Look and Odgers declined to comment. But the smart money is on him taking more of a back seat as a non-executive chairman. Once a new chief executive is in place, the involvement of Mr Singh, who returned to the retailer in March to whip its buying and merchandising into shape, will also come under the spotlight.

Is the float back on?

Probably not for quite a while. New Look – whose private equity owners, Apax and Permira, each hold 27 per cent – has net debt of more than £1bn and the outlook for consumer spending is set to remain gloomy.

And Mr McGeorge?

The straight-talking accountant is unlikely to be short of offers from retailers or private equity. He may get a bit more time to lower his impressive golf handicap of six and indulge himself in reading more thrillers.