Value fashion brand New Look has reported record full-year results. Total group sales in the year to March 28 grew 14.9 per cent to £1.32bn, with EBITDA up 10.2 per cent to £217.6m. Like-for-likes in the UK and Ireland rose 1.4 per cent.
The retailer said that its “strong UK trading performance” had continued over Easter and it continues to “outperform the market and deliver year-on-year growth”.
Private equity backed New Look has benefited from the “flight to value” by shoppers during the recession and from a strengthened management team as it embarks on plans to become a global fashion player.
The retailer said that it had gained market share in the UK during the year, up 0.7 percentage points to 5.4 per cent.
It had £161.1m cash at the year-end and no material debt maturities until 2013.
The retailer, which is the number one retailer by volume in women’s footwear, dresses and denim, said that its website had “exceeded expectations” since launching in December 2007. It had an average of 1 million visitors a week in March, a threefold increase on the same time last year. It will launch a new web platform in late 2009 which, among other things, will allow customers to order in store for delivery at home.
New Look added 542,000 sq ft of company-owned retail space during the year, taking its total trading space to 4.54 million sq ft – a 14 per cent increase. Franchise space increased by 188,000 sq ft.
In the UK and Ireland, New Look opened 33 stores in the year, with 19 in new markets and 14 relocations to larger sites, taking the retailer to a total of 612 stores at the year-end. It plans to open a further 250,000 sq ft of trading space in the current financial year.
Internationally, New Look opened 27 stores during the year, including its first in Moscow. By April 2010 the retailer wants to open a further 20 stores in France and three in Belgium. It has also entered the Dutch market for the first time with the New Look fascia. New Look has 297 Mim stores and 23 New Look stores across France and Belgium at present.
During the year, New Look pushed the button on its strategy to become a global fashion retailer with the relocation of its buying and merchandising functions to London, as revealed by Retail Week.
Chief executive Carl McPhail said: “New Look’s strategy of focusing on providing our customers with great fashion at prices they can afford has served us well in the current environment and enabled us to report record results.
“We have increased market share in our core categories and continue to focus on the expansion of the New Look brand in the UK and abroad.
“2009 will be another challenging year for the consumer. However, I am confident that New Look is well equipped to face the challenges of the year ahead.”