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Feb 10, 2015
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New Look boss says firm ready for stock market listing

By
Reuters
Published
Feb 10, 2015

LONDON, United Kingdom - British fashion retailer New Look is ready to make another attempt at a stock market flotation, though any decision to do so rests with its owners, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

New Look, which pulled a planned listing in 2010 amid turbulent financial markets, is owned by private equity groups Apax and Permira as well as founder Tom Singh. They took the firm private for 800 million pounds ($1 billion) in 2004.

"We've demonstrated that in tough periods we continue to perform well so I think this business is ... ready (to float)," Chief Executive Anders Kristiansen told reporters, adding however it was not his decision and he had no idea what the company's owners were planning.

Apax declined comment, while Permira was not immediately available.

New Look said it had seen a positive shopper response to new ranges in 2015 after posting a fall in third-quarter underlying sales. Sales at stores open more than a year fell 1.7 percent in the 13 weeks to Dec. 27 compared with the year before, after unseasonably warm weather hurt sales in October and November.

Total sales over the period fell 1.6 percent to 399.9 million pounds but were up 2.9 percent to 1.1 billion over the 39 weeks to Dec. 27.

UK like-for-like sales fell 1.0 percent over the third quarter while e-commerce sales across the group jumped 28.6 percent.

Core earnings for the 39 weeks were up 3.4 percent to 192.6 million pounds and the company ended the period with net debt of 1 billion pounds.

New Look vies with the likes of Primark (part of AB Foods ), Next and H&M in a fiercely competitive British fashion retail market. It has 569 stores in the UK and trades from more than 800 stores in 21 countries.

"The return of more seasonal weather in January has supported the planned clearance of winter lines as we resume full-price trading," said Kristiansen.

"Whilst we remain watchful of the wider consumer environment, we remain confident in the strength of the New Look brand and we have seen a promising early response to our new ranges."

The group has 18 stores in China and said it was on track to have 20 there by the end of the year. Further store openings are planned in France, Germany and Poland.

£1 = $1.52

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