Anders Kristiansen is a name unfamiliar to most in the UK but as vice chief executive of Bestseller’s 5,500 store Chinese business he has been at the helm of a behemoth.
After almost two years without a chief executive, New Look has finally found its man in Anders Kristiansen. Hailing from Denmark, his name is unfamiliar to most in the UK but, as vice-chief executive of Bestseller’s 5,500-store Chinese business, he has experience at the helm of a behemoth. The appointment is a clear signal of New Look’s intent to become a truly global operator.
New Look chairman Alistair McGeorge has said that in the next five years the retailer, which has 210 stores outside the UK, will have a “very substantive” business in Russia, a “decent footprint” in China and a presence in India.
Kristiansen’s experience in China at Bestseller, which operates brands including Vero Moda and Jack & Jones, will be invaluable to New Look in the next few months as it is poised to launch in the country before the end of March.
However, Kristiansen’s expertise is not limited to China. He has experience running retailers across both Asia-Pacific and Europe, and impressively, speaks German, English, French, Danish and some Mandarin, which will undoubtedly come in handy as New Look continues to expand. First and foremost though he will be focused on continuing its UK turnaround when he takes the reins in January.
New Look has had a turbulent time in the past two years. Chief executive Carl McPhail left in March 2011 on the back of poor sales and McGeorge, former chief executive of Matalan, was drafted in to steady the ship.
It has since suffered a string of departures including its ecommerce, buying and merchandise bosses. But Kristiansen’s appointment completes the makeover of New Look’s senior management team, which is starting to see progress in its turnaround.
EBITDA soared 25.2% to £86.9m in its first half to September 22 and New Look is on course to make a small pre-tax profit in its current year compared with a £54.5m loss the previous year.
Many expected New Look to hire a known leader in the fashion world yet, despite Kristiansen’s recent foray into the sector, he has spent most of his career in office supplies. He joined Bestseller from Staples, the Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, last year. He was president of the stationer’s Chinese business and senior vice-president of the global firm.
He started his career at office supplies firm Bogpa in Denmark and his CV is peppered with the leading stationers in the world including Lyreco, where he was managing director of its Asia Pacific business, and European stationers GBC and Herlitz.
However, New Look hired Kristiansen for his leadership qualities rather than his product prowess. He is a passionate leader, says McGeorge, and has retail in his blood – he was, after all, born above a shop in his Danish homeland. McGeorge says Kristiansen will help New Look to “get the best out of 20,000 people and put stores and staff at the forefront of our business”.
And his experience at young fashion chain Bestseller, where he worked for 18 months, should give him a few ideas on how to target the New Look customer.
As part of its turnaround, New Look is focusing on widening its offer, which had gone “too young”, according to McGeorge, and lowering its price points. The move is already paying off as the retailer is now selling less product at markdown.
Kristiansen’s experience in branded fashion will also be useful. New Look has increasingly been adding more brands to its offer, and has had success selling brands online. Kristiansen’s influence might help the retailer bring more brands to store and make the branded areas more coherent.
Undoubtedly the former stationer is drawing up his plans for New Look, and he is certain to make sure the retailer is pushing the envelope of its global opportunity.
2011 to 2012 Bestseller China vice-chief executive
2010 to 2011 Staples president, China
2003 to 2010 Lyreco managing director, Asia Pacific
2000 Lyreco board member
1999 GBC head of sales and marketing, Europe