The New Look ship has been stabilised and, as today’s stellar first-quarter results show, it is now primed for growth. Retail Week looks at its big opportunities.
New Look boss Anders Kristiansen is clear that international expansion is one of its key priorities and he is only eyeing big prizes. China, Poland, Russia and Germany were identified as his major expansion targets, although the political situation in Russia has halted his ambitions there for the time being.
A lot of work is going into gearing up for growth in the other countries, particularly for the largest potential market, China. It launched in China in March and now has 10 stores there. It is piloting different types of locations to find out what works. So far, it has established that international malls occupied by retailers such as Zara and H&M work well for it.
After it establishes the right formula, the stage is set for it to expand aggressively and become one of the first UK high street retailers to really crack China. It has recently hired Bernhard Ruf as managing director of international.
Meanwhile, work is underway in Poland and Germany. It has bought out its Polish franchise partner and plans to start propelling its growth there. It has also just launched a German-language website.
New Look is looking to boost its menswear business, which accounts for a small part of sales at present. The retailer has hired a new team including former River Island menswear buying controller Shailen Unalkat to improve its collection ahead of its big push in the category. Kristiansen says the improved range should be ready within six to nine months.
Menswear accounts for 4% of New Look sales but on third-party sites including Asos and Zalando Kristiansen says the proportion is closer to 20%.
“There’s clearly an appetite but we’re not known as a destination for menswear,” he says. “When we have a proper range we’ll shout about it.”
The retailer intends to “shout about” its new range and expand menswear, which is currently in only 202 of its 610 UK stores, across more of its estate.
3. Boosting transaction values
New Look has been working hard to widen its price architecture and has introduced both sharper entry prices to help it compete with retailers such as Primark, and pricier, more premium products.
In its best-selling kimono ranges this spring, it sold items priced from £12.99 to £50. Shoppers have seemingly been opting for the more expensive products as basket values have increased in the first quarter. New Look has a great opportunity to expand this across the business and boost sales values.
Online has undoubtedly been New Look’s strongest sales channel in the first quarter, when sales soared 39.2%. The retailer will aim to propel this growth with improvements that should make shopping online more convenient. It plans to introduce Sunday delivery and is also one of the first retailers to use new railway station pick-up service Doddle.
Meanwhile, it is also vying to exploit the ecommerce opportunity overseas. It has soft-launched its German and French-language websites and will soon start promoting them to boost sales in those countries. A Polish-language site is also in the offing. Asos has proven how successful UK brands can be overseas and New Look will be looking to follow in its footsteps.