New Look posted a nosedive in profits and sales at the half-year mark as it drafted in former boss Alistair McGeorge as executive chairman.

The ailing fashion chain reported a 72% fall in adjusted EBITDA to £24.2m in the 26 weeks to September 23, driven by 8.6% and 8.4% plunges in own-brand like-for-like sales and UK like-for-likes respectively.

New Look’s “challenging” performance in the UK, and a 4.5% fall in total revenues to £686m, meant it swung to an underlying operating loss of £10.4m, compared to a £59.3m profit the previous year. 

The business, which was revealed by Retail Week last month to have turned to ex-boss McGeorge in a bid to turn around its flagging fortunes, confirmed today that he had been appointed executive chairman.

McGeorge will take over from Danny Barrasso, who acted as interim chief executive in the wake of Anders Kristiansen’s sudden exit. Barasso will return to his previous role as UK and Ireland managing director.

Non-executive John Gnodde said: “Having previously led New Look through a period of recovery from 2011, Alistair has invaluable experience and the requisite expertise to help get the business moving forward again.”

McGeorge has taken the reins at a very difficult time for New Look. The fashion retailer posted a 7.6% slump in its own website sales at the half-year mark, although sales on third-party ecommerce sites increased 17%.

New Look attributed its ongoing poor performance to challenges across its UK division, and Gnodde said the latter half of the year “is likely to remain challenging”.

Newly appointed executive chairman McGeorge said: “The immediate focus in this period of transition will be to deliver stability and get the business back to basics by reconnecting with the New Look customer and recovering our broad appeal.

“Today’s results reflect another tough period of trading for the company amid a challenging retail environment on the UK high street. While we’re not anticipating a reversal in fortunes overnight, I am confident we will implement the necessary changes to get the company back on track.

“We will focus on ensuring that we buy into the right trends with the right product, have an efficient supply chain, and provide customers with great value.

“New Look is a remarkable brand supported by brilliant people, and we will focus on getting back to basics and rebuilding our position within the UK womenswear market.”