New Look posts loss amid torrid high street trading

Raising prices disappointed customers said exec-chairman Alistair George
Raising prices disappointed customers said exec-chairman Alistair George

Fashion chain New Look has swung to a full-year loss amid plunging sales on the high street and online.

The retailer reported an operating loss of £74.3 million for the year to March 24, having made £97.6m profit in the previous year.

New Look’s sales in the UK fell by 11.7% on a like-for-like basis, accelerating from a decline of 6.8% the year before. Website sales slumped by 19.2%.

Total revenue was £1.34 billion, down from £1.45bn year on year.

In a bid to lure back customers, New Look’s executive chairman Alistair McGeorge is lowering prices.

“Quite frankly, we have disappointed some of our best customers,” he said.

“It is interesting what happened. We had lost our prices. We had put our prices up, all we have done now is to put it back to where it should be. It didn’t work, it was never going to work.”

The business was hit with a £34.2m one-off cost, which included an exceptional charge from stock clearances.

New Look launched a restructuring plan in March, announcing it would shut 60 stores as part of a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA), affecting 980 jobs.

The company said on Tuesday the CVA would allow the business to save £40m.

Mr McGeorge said: “At the end of the day for a business to survive it has to have a good brand and be run properly. A CVA alone is not going to save a business.”

The news from New Look comes after House of Fraser proposed a CVA, intending to shut 31 stores, putting 6,000 jobs at risk.

Mothercare and Carpetright have also undertaken CVAs in a bid to save on costs.

Torrid trading has triggered a swathe of retail failures with Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld all entering administration.