New Look has revealed surging profits in its first half as chief financial officer Alastair Miller, who led the crucial refinancing of the business this year, prepares to step down after 13 years.
The fashion retailer generated pre-tax of £13.8m in the 26 weeks to September 28 from a loss of £13.6m in the same period last year.
Group revenue jumped 6% to £753.2m, while UK sales rose 5% to £579.4m. Group like-for-likes increased 1.9% as UK like-for-likes grew 2.6%.
In addition, online sales soared 78.8%, surging 52.9% across its own website, as the retailer improved functionality and delivery options.
The performance comes as Miller plans to move on from New Look to build a portfolio career. Miller was a key figure in New Look’s refinancing and bond issue in May this year.
He will stay in his role until the retailer has appointed a successor.
New Look chairman Alistair McGeorge thanked Miller for his work and wished him well.
Miller said: “I will leave in the knowledge that the company is in good hands with an experienced, ambitious management team who will continue to drive the business forward.”
New Look chief executive Anders Kristiansen said: “Alastair has been an invaluable member of the executive team. He leaves the business in great shape and with a very bright future.”
He added: “Our strategy is delivering, and there is real momentum in the business.”
New Look said the performance was underpinned by revenue growth, markdown reduction and cost savings. In the half year New Look improved margins by 40bps as it continued to control costs, manage stock tightly and reduce discounting.
Kristiansen said New Look is on track to open its first Chinese store by Spring 2014, while six Chinese stores have been agreed in total.
New Look has recently hired Bernhard Ruf as managing director of international.
Kristiansen added: “In line with the rest of the sector, current trading is more challenging and as yet we are not seeing any benefits of economic recovery feed through to our customers’ pockets. However, we are confident that the strength of New Look’s offer, namely our product, our website, our stores and our people, means that we are well placed for the busy Christmas trading period and beyond.”