Property and marketing bosses go in fashion restructure
New Look has made five top directors redundant as it restructures its business in the face of a tough retail climate.

Property director Paul Hitchcott, marketing director Hash Ladha and three high-level buying directors have left the retailer as part of the shake-up.

Chief executive Phil Wrigley said the directors had been instrumental in transforming the business since it was taken private in 2004, but were no longer needed. He said the retailer was focused on growth, which may include franchising and e-commerce.

Wrigley added: 'We want to create options for our investors. We'd be failing if we didn't transform the business, so people will see us in due course as a fundamentally different investment proposition.'

Wrigley rejected speculation that the move was preparation for an imminent float.

As Retail Week went to press, New Look was expected to post a full-year trading statement revealing strong sales growth, but negative like-for-likes.

Hitchcott and Ladha will form a retail location consultancy called Stem. Hitchcott said: 'This was an amicable arrangement. It could have got difficult, but it didn't. We recognised the need for the business to move on and to move the bottom line along.'

The others to leave are buying directors Alan Wood and Nikki Garman, as well as the buying and merchandising director of New Look's French chain Mim, Pierre Gaillard.

Recently appointed director of strategy and planning Sean Wills is reviewing the retailer's plans for an e-commerce venture. No launch date has yet been set.

New Look was criticised this week by the Forum of Private Business for squeezing suppliers by increasing supplier payment terms from 60 to 75 days.

Wrigley defended the move. He said: 'We're far less aggressive than many.' He argued the change would help accelerate New Look's space growth, resulting in larger volume gains for suppliers.

New Look was taken private for£700 million in 2004 by private equity groups Apax and Permira. Last week, the retailer secured£350 million extra financing in the form of a pay-in-kind loan from Goldman Sachs.