New Look has bucked the retail gloom to reveal a robust performance over the festive period.

In the 14 weeks to January 3, the fast fashion retailer revealed UK like-for-likes grew 2.8 per cent, with gross margins up 170 basis points.

Group sales grew 14.5 per cent during the period driven by store openings. The retailer, which has 607 stores in Ireland and the UK, will open a further 350,000 sq ft of trading space in the current financial year including its new concept stores in Liverpool, White City and Meadowhall.

It said its menswear division had continued to grow market share and that womenswear now accounted for 5 per cent market share, an increase of 0.3 per cent over the previous 12 months.

New Look did not alter its trading stance this year, despite widespread early discounting on the high street, and launched is Sale on Boxing Day. It added that it was able to reduce markdowns because of tight stock management.

The retailer, which launched its online channel this year, reported 1.1 million visitors to its site in its peak week before Christmas. It will introduce transactional web sites for New Look in France and Belgium.

Internationally, the retailer - which has more than 40 New Look stores and 291 stores trading under the Mim fasica - opened 22 stores since April. It has signed a franchise agreement for Russia and will open its first store in Moscow in early 2009.

New Look chief executive Carl McPhail said: “Despite the well documented pressures facing retailers and the UK consumer, I am pleased with the performance of the Group over the Christmas period.

"Our core fashion and value credentials have enabled New Look to trade through the difficult current economic environment, increase market share and make further investments in our international expansion.

In addition, our new online channel is making tremendous progress and will be a further benefit in trading the business through a very challenging 2009.”