New Look is a leading UK clothing retailer in the value segment, selling stylish clothing, accessories and footwear at low prices, mainly to women aged between 16 and 30. By the start of 2020 there were 480 stores across the UK and another 28 in the Republic of Ireland, as well as an ecommerce operation shipping to more than 60 countries internationally. Menswear was shifted to online-only availability in 2019. Strong performance over the holiday period in 2009 allowed New Look to leapfrog Next to become the #2 in UK women's wear behind Marks & Spencer with just over 6% share. It held that position for several years before being overtaken itself by Primark, another specialist in the under-35 age group and the value segment. In 2015, control of the business was acquired by Brait, the investment company of South African financier Christoph Wiese. However New Look has struggled since then with changing consumer tastes within the fiercely competitive bricks and mortar fashion market, reporting declines in same-store sales and net losses. That led to a withdrawal from China, France, Poland and Belgium, where New Look had established a presence. Several underperforming UK stores were also closed, and staff numbers cut. For the year to March 2019, revenues slipped to £1.2bn, and the company reported a net loss of £553m after substantial non-cash impairment charges and goodwill write-offs relating from a financial restructuring. However, the group claimed to have regained its financial stability. Group COO Nigel Oddy was promoted to CEO in 2020; his predecessor Alistair McGeorge became non-executive chairman. However, inevitably the Coronavirus pandemic has caused a new set of challenges, and the company has initiated talks to renegotiate rental terms with its landlords. New Look actually celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019. The company was founded in 1969 in sleepy market town of Taunton, Dorset by Anglo-Indian entrepreneur Tom Singh, whose grandparents had run a drapery shop since arriving in the West Country from the Punjab in the 1930s. The business enjoyed considerable success during the 1980s and 1990s, prompting its IPO in 1998. Singh took the business private again a few years later, and retained a close association with the business as a director until 2019.
Capsule checked 3rd July 2020
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