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New Look boss: ‘Price will give us edge in menswear’

New Look chief executive Anders Kristiansen has said lower prices will help it to steal menswear market share from its competitors including Topman and River Island.

The young fashion retailer today confirmed it will open five standalone menswear stores before the end of its financial year in March, as exclusively reported by Drapers in July. The first will open in October and three more will follow by Christmas, with the fifth planned for next spring. The retailer is looking at units in the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Wigan and Portsmouth.

Kristiansen said New Look could open more menswear stores if deals in the right locations come up. He said there was “no magic number” but he wants to increase menswear’s share of New Look’s sales from the current 3% to 15% over the next five years.

He pointed out that 15% of New Look’s sales through are menswear, “so there is an appetite for it”.

“Menswear tends to be more profitable for our competitors; that’s not the case for us at the minute, but it will be more profitable than womenswear in the next five years,” he added.

Kristiansen said New Look’s “significantly lower prices” would give it an edge over its high street competitors. “There is a gap in the market. For womenswear it works really well, we have the latest trends, good quality and significantly lower prices than our competitors. We see the same opportunity for menswear but we need to deliver. The offer has to be as strong as womenswear.”

New Look has already revamped the menswear department in 50 stores and rolled out a new more prominent menswear shop fit to eight shops including the Oxford Street flagship.

The product has also been overhauled and all the “novelty” products have been replaced with credible collections, Kristiansen said. “We had less tasteful T-shirts and jerseys with Superman logos, all the novelty has been stripped out and replaced with quality products at a good price.

“We have built a credible menswear offer that men will buy and wear. We have worked on the fits and fabric we use in our suits. Our denim used to be bad quality, but it has been upgraded.”

New Look, which reported a 9% increase in pre-tax profit to £19.3m for the 13 weeks to June 27, is still clearing summer stock, but said the autumn ranges have been well-received.

Revenue for the first quarter was up 4.3% to £369.8m, while UK like-for-like sales increased 4.1%. New Look’s own brand like-for-like sales were also up 4.1%.

Kristiansen warned the market is “very volatile”, but added: “We have built great ranges and we are excited about our menswear business and our international expansion. I’m always optimistic for the future.”

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