Vulture fund targets struggling New Look
A ‘vulture’ fund called Alchemy Partners is reportedly going after New Look, following months of distressing news at the British fast fashion retailer.
Alchemy Partners, which specialises in investing in distressed businesses, is considering buying into New Look’s bonds, which have weakened in recent periods with some trading at less than 20p in the pound last week, reported The Sunday Times.
The company has invested over £3bn in over 140 transactions since its creation, including retirement homes builder McCarthy & Stone. It is familiar with New Look, and traded in and out of its bonds in 2013, and it knows New Look’s new chief executive Alistair McGeorge, who returned to the chain in November in a bid to rescue the brand.
New Look was hit by a new decline in sales in the third quarter, with group revenue dropping by more than 6% and UK like-for-like sales falling by 10.7% in the important Christmas trading period.
McGeorge said the brand’s clothes had become “too young and edgy” under former CEO Anders Kristiansen and vowed to make the necessary changes to get the company back on track. These might include the closure of about 60 of New Look’s 600 UK stores, according to reports.
The company is also likely to undergo cash flow problems in the next months after credit insurers including Euler Hermes stopped offering insolvency cover to a number of suppliers citing concerns over the chain’s financial health.
McGeorge has insisted the business has enough liquid cash to continue operating, but a group of bondholders hired investment bank Rothschild earlier this month to advise them ahead of a potential financial overhaul.
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