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WINNER: New Look
As the second-largest womenswear retailer in the UK, New Look secures this award for the second year running. Judges said, “New Look moved on again, with great turnaround and a global reach.” Of total group sales of £1,490.6m for 2015/16, an increased 16.5% were generated outside the UK. Trading in a total of 838 stores in the UK, China, and Europe, New Look continued to refurbish its store portfolio this year, bringing 442 shops into its new, more spacious format with higher-specification fixtures. It continued to expand globally, and now has 85 stores in China, a key growth area. Growth in ecommerce has been driven by investments in design, content and functionality on the site and mobile app. Visits to the transactional website, newlook.com, total 5 million visits a week, generating just more than £200m of sales in 2015/16. A further £48m comes from third-party sites. New product ranges include activewear, which featured in shop windows at the beginning of the year, a rebranding of plus-size line New Look Curve, and plans to extend fragrance and cosmetics ranges. To feed growing demand for menswear, the business opened six standalone New Look Men stores this year.
Launching an activewear range earlier this year with celebrity Davina McCall showed that this supermarket fashion brand is willing to evolve. F&F had an ambitious push internationally and now operates in 135 stores across 15 countries.
As a high street market leader in sustainability, H&M continues to up its game in that area and works to ensure all its operations run in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way. This year ecommerce will also launch in Canada and South Korea.
Despite CCO Andy Harding stepping down in April, House of Fraser has restructured the team to put the customer at the heart of the business. A customer insight team was created to connect more closely with costumers and ensure a consistent multichannel experience.
Overall John Lewis sales were up by 4.5% year on year for the six months to the end of July 2016, thanks to the performance of womenswear. Gearing up for a multichannel future, however, ate into profits. The retailer opened 2.4m sq ft of distribution facilities at Magna Park in Milton Keynes following a £150m investment. And it was change at the top with the departure of Andy Street to become Conservative mayoral candidate for the West Midlands, and the internal replacement of Paula Nickolds to managing director. New womenswear brand, Modern Rarity, was well received when it launched in September. Also this year, John Lewis opened its first store in Essex.
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With the launch of ecommerce site Tu Online last summer and Tu Premium this year, the supermarket brand grew sales 8% year on year in a competitive market. To show support for emerging designers, Tu at Sainsbury’s was the headline sponsor of Graduate Fashion Week 2016.