New Look has hired former Primark buying and merchandising director Julian Kilmartin to help it fix the product mistakes it made in the latter half of 2010.
Kilmartin, whose exact job title is unclear, also previously worked at Marks & Spencer and is highly regarded for his product expertise.
Kilmartin’s arrival at New Look is likely to prompt changes or a reshuffle in the value chain’s buying, merchandising and design team, according to sources. The team is led by group buying director Roger Wightman, head of group merchandising Carolyn MacKenzie and design director Barbara Horspool.
Kilmartin’s appointment is understood to have been prompted after the UK’s second largest womenswear chain suffered dismal trading in the latter half of 2010, which it blamed on it having the wrong product and pricing structure. Over Christmas, like-for-likes slumped 9.1% in the 15 weeks to January 8.
Kilmartin, who left Primark before Christmas, previously spent eight years at M&S in a number of roles including trading director for menswear. He has also held positions at Moss Bros and Next. He joined Primark in June 2009.
This week New Look, which failed to float on the stock market last year, suffered one of its private equity backers SVG halving the value of its stake to £13.5m.
Martin Clarke, New Look non-executive director and a partner at Permira - which together with Apax each took a 27.7% stake in New Look in 2004 for £700m - said Permira was aware of the changes to the teams and “fully endorsed” them.
“There have been issues in some of the buying functions,” said Clarke. However, he stressed that Permira had “every confidence in the business and the management team”, headed by boss Carl McPhail.