Former New Look boss Alistair McGeorge has returned to the ailing fashion chain following the departure of chief executive Anders Kristiansen, Retail Week can reveal.

Turnaround specialist McGeorge, who spent two-and-a-half years as executive chairman and a further eight months in a non-executive role until May 2014, is understood to be leading trading meetings and weekly director meetings.

It is unclear whether the appointment of McGeorge, who had been advising the business on an ad hoc basis, is a permanent or temporary one. 

Sources close to the situation said McGeorge, who is credited with stabilising New Look and returning the business to profit during his time at the helm, is working closely with New Look’s UK and Ireland managing director Danny Barrasso in a bid to transform its fortunes.

Barrasso had been second-in-command to Kristiansen, who was appointed by McGeorge, and was successful in continuing to build on the stability he created.

Under his leadership, New Look flourished, expanding into China and launching standalone menswear stores while womenswear went from strength to strength.

But that came to an abrupt end in 2016, since when New Look has racked up negative quarter after negative quarter.

The business suffered a 31.8% slump in adjusted EBITDA to £155m in the year to March 25 as like-for-like sales in its core UK business tumbled 6.8%.

The lacklustre performance led to the exit of Kristiansen and the cancellation of his key hire, Paula Dumont Lopez, of Esprit and Inditex.

McGeorge’s return forms part of a wider shift in leadership at New Look.

Buying, merchandising and design director Alex Dimitriu is the latest senior figure to exit the business after just over one year in the role and another year as womenswear director. She was formerly head of buying at Marks & Spencer for three years.

Her exit follows the departures of menswear director Christopher Englinde, women’s footwear, accessories and beauty director Amanda Wain, head of design Steven Andrews, buying, merchandising and design director Emma Worley, group digital director Jack Smith and ecommerce director Sally Heath-Minto, all of whom departed under Kristiansen’s rule.