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Bhs director takes charge of New Look's menswear

Bhs menswear director Steve Lawton is leaving the department store giant to take up a job at acquisition target New Look.

Lawton, who was at Bhs for three years, will join the young fashion chain this summer as its buying, merchandising and design director for menswear. He replaces former menswear director Andy King, who left the business in April.

Lawton, who spearheaded the launch of Bhs fashion brand Trait (Drapers, June 2), will take charge of a 20-strong menswear team at New Look.

The retailer will then cement its intentions for the £8 billion category by committing to its first menswear flagship store in the City in July. Bhs was unavailable for comment on Lawton's departure.

Lawton's appointment will free up buying, merchandising and design director Paul Marchant, who took over menswear responsibilities from King.

As Drapers went to press, speculation surrounding the sale of New Look raged on. A source close to the company said: "Almost every bank and private equity house has been reported as having an interest and the management will be disappointed if the deal isn't done by the end of the month. They know the price tag of £2bn is ambitious and are pleased with the offers they have received so far."

New Look is understood to have received offers of £1.6bn to £1.8bn.

As Drapers went to press, reports suggested that New Look founder Tom Singh is likely to sell out entirely, taking a windfall of £300m if a sale is agreed.

Separately, New Look is expanding in the Republic of Ireland and will open 14 stores there within the next three to five years. It plans to grow its total Irish portfolio to 40 stores.

Last year the Irish business made a profit of around 13.5 million for the year to the end of March and the management team is investing £20m into the operation.

There are plans to relocate New Look's store in Dun Laoghaire, moving from a 1,000sq ft to a 6,000sq ft unit. A New Look store will also open in the next development phase of the Dundrum Town Centre mall.

New Look head of acquisitions Amanda Herron said that in Ireland the small-town stores are proving to be among the company's best performers, with low overheads and higher profit margins. She added: "For us it's often the smaller markets that are the most lucrative."

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