Fashion retailer New Look plans to open a chain of menswear stores - including one in Portsmouth - in one of the first moves by its new billionaire owner.
The firm, which runs more than 800 stores in 21 countries, said it plans to open five standalone menswear units in the UK, following on from successful trials at its Oxford Circus flagship.
Menswear is a key strategic priority for New Look, and the opening of menswear standalone stores represents a natural next step for usRoger Wightman, New Look chief creative officer
Chief Creative Officer Roger Wightman said: “Menswear is a key strategic priority for New Look, and the opening of menswear standalone stores represents a natural next step for us.”
In May Brait, an investment vehicle of the South African retail billionaire Christo Wiese, snapped up a 90 per cent stake in New Look for £780 million.
New Look has signed leases on the first of its three menswear shops in the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Wigan and Portsmouth. It is in the middle of negotiations over leases with landlords for the two other stores. The firm has around 570 UK stores.
Menswear currently represents three per cent of the retailer’s group sales, but it said it plans to boost this to 15 per cent over the medium term.
It added that Christopher Englinde is due to join the group as global director of menswear from Swedish rival H&M in September.
The group also posted adjusted first quarter pre-tax profit up nine per cent to £19.3 million in the 13 weeks to June 27 compared to a year ago, with like-for-like sales up 4.1%, boosted by strong trading across the business.
It said that during the period it incurred £93 million of transaction costs relating to the Brait acquisition and a subsequent refinancing, that resulted in a statutory pre-tax loss of £73.1 million.
The business said it upgraded a further 23 shops in the quarter, bringing the number of stores under its new layout to 351.
It also said it has 39 stores trading in China at the end its first full year in the country, where it continues to grow. It plans to add around 40 more shops in China before the end of its full-year next March.
Chief executive Anders Kristiansen said: “These strong results demonstrate New Look’s ongoing progress during a quarter in which we have changed ownership and refinanced the business.
“Further UK sales growth is particularly encouraging, whilst our latest successful store openings in China ensure our expansion plans continue on track.”
However, he added the “consumer environment remains unpredictable”.
New Look was sold by buyout firms Apax and Permira, who also passed on about £1 billion of debt to the new owners.
The remaining 10% of the business is held by the family of Tom Singh, who founded the business in 1969, and other senior management.