New Look founder joins Indian partner to hunt for acquisitions
New Look founder Tom Singh is to build an international clothing empire by acquiring fast-fashion chains around the world.

Singh has joined forces with Indian fashion supplier House of Pearl and the pair are scouting for a 100-store fashion chain in the US or UK, fuelling speculation that he may offload his 21 per cent stake in New Look if a bid or float materialises this year.

Singh is also developing a womenswear retail chain to launch in India that is likely to be a joint venture with House of Pearl, which floated on the Bombay Stock Exchange last month.

This is not the entrepreneur's first overseas venture outside New Look. At the end of last year, he purchased a 50 per cent stake in Australian fast-fashion chain Forever New. He has ambitions to expand the chain to 100 stores before launching into Asian markets.

Singh's plans for global domination have raised eyebrows, given that New Look is about to embark on worldwide expansion itself. The retailer plans to open in Europe and the Middle East and is believed to be in talks with potential partners in India and China.

House of Pearl chief financial officer Rishi Vig said that Singh had been appointed as an independent director of the company, which supplies Next and H&M and has a distribution and logistics service in the UK.

House of Pearl has appointed merchant bankers working in London to identify suitable acquisition targets in the value and middle-market fashion sectors.

Vig said: 'We have the strength at the back end and Tom has major strength at the front. We have strengthened our sourcing and are looking for a retail format in the US or UK to support that. We floated on February 25 with a market cap of US$200 million and part of those funds will be deployed for a retail acquisition.

'We are also considering launching a retail format in India and Tom is keen to enter there.'

Singh, who is a non-executive director at New Look, could net up to£420 million if a£2 billion float or sale of the business goes ahead. However, he may not opt to exit the operation completely. Vig said that New Look was not on House of Pearl's deal radar.

Singh could not be reached for comment. A New Look spokesman said: 'Tom has obviously made a substantial amount of money. Why wouldn't he be investing it? It does not mean he is thinking of exiting New Look.'