The decision to reorganise the business, which will affect 250 staff based at its Weymouth office, forms part of the retailer's strategy to become an international retailer on a par with fashion giants Inditex
Chief executive Carl McPhail told Retail Week that the move was “about preparing for growth” and “attracting the best talent” to the business to fulfil plans to generate 20 per cent of sales and profits outside the UK within five years. It follows a strategic review by consultancy McKinsey instigated last year.
He said: “We have an ambition to be an international fashion business. We have to grow
outside the shores of the UK.
“We look to a business like
H&M and Inditex and we would want to aspire to that while remaining true to what New Look stands for.”
He said the Weymouth location has been a stumbling block to attracting global retail heavyweights and competing with global fashion rivals.
“London is one of the key fashion capitals,” he said. “A number of our competitors are based there, making the talent pool both deeper and wider.”
He said a London office will make it easier to travel to its overseas operations including France, Belgium and the Middle East.
The retailer has begun a 90-day consultation period with staff at its Weymouth office, where it employs 500 people across
its HR, IT, buying, merchandising, design, marketing and finance functions.
The reorganisation of the business will be completed by December this year, with staff poised to move into new premises in central London from June. They will be joined by 75 employees situated in the retailer's existing Marble Arch office, comprising half the design team, a third of the marketing staff, its PR division and some property and menswear buying functions.
Some small divisions of the UK and Ireland team will be relocated to Lymedale in the Midlands, where New Look has its distribution centre, after relocating from Weymouth three years ago.
McPhail said New Look's private equity backers Apax and Permira and founder Tom Singh are supportive of the move.
He said as many of the 250 staff as possible will be relocated, and they will be offered attractive retention packages.
He added that New Look remains committed to Weymouth “for the foreseeable future”, and will not move its IT, finance, HR and call centre groups.