Debt and growth are not incompatible and New Look is showing the way

On Friday, value retailer New Look took down the hoardings, summoned TV personality Kelly Brook to cut a ribbon and welcomed shoppers into its revamped store at the west end of Oxford Street. The occasion was quite a big deal for the retailer as this is the store that has always been the focus of media attention ever since fashionable design consultancy Future Systems created a space-age interior for New Look in this location in the early years of the last decade.

Now, it is less of a one-off and has more in common with the branches in Nottingham and High Wycombe that were revealed in the spring. And this may well help New Look in its quest to recover from what have, until recently, been parlous times.

Today, curiously, New Look bears close comparison to the country as an economic entity. During 2012, it has, in effect, emerged from a pretty recessionary period and pundits are rather more optimistic (or perhaps less bearish) about its prospects than they might have been this time last year.

It is also, just like the UK, saddled with a mountain of debt that it has to service in order to stay afloat and a lot of people’s jobs depend upon this. The big difference however is that New Look is in a better position to put things right without a huge dose of austerity. The new look New Looks are what you feel a value fashion store should be - engaging interiors, stuff that you might consider buying and prices that are unlikely to make that much of a difference to the monthly budget.

They are also, on the face of it, engaging without being bankrupting as far as creating the store interiors are concerned. This is store design where a close eye has been kept on the bottom line and it’s hard not to admire, even if the main floor of this store does feel a little overcrowded. An encouraging result for New Look therefore and while it still has much in common with the macroeconomic environment that characterises the UK currently, its long-term chances of flourishing do appear rather better as a result of its actions than those of the country at large.