New Look has drafted in former Marks & Spencer head of womenswear design Barbara Horspool to spearhead its trend division and oversee the entire collection.
Her appointment as trend director will be her first full-time job since leaving M&S in March last year. A number of other retailers, including Alexon Group, were also believed to have been interested in securing Horspool's expertise.
New Look managing director Paul Marchant said that Horspool would be responsible for identifying and interpreting trends and colours across the entire clothing offer. He added that the business needed someone of Horspool's calibre to focus on trend credentials as it developed new ranges and expanded into bigger stores.
Horspool told Drapers that her remit would be to increase New Look's ability to "make money from trends" by getting the timing of product right in-store and by interpreting trends commercially.
"I want it to be the first choice on women's shopping agendas. New Look is a growing business, both in the UK and abroad. It wanted to bring in someone with experience of that, and of lessons that can be learned," she said.
She will also support New Look's expansion of sub-brands like maternity and kidswear, and the move into bigger stores to house the extended lines.
She added: "I am very keen that any design role has accountability for the bottom line, and for me it's about getting results."
Marchant said it was essential to grow the senior team in line with the chain's expansion. "We have opened larger stores, which are being filled with new sub-brands. The appointment is key to us occupying larger spaces. Barbara was positive about the business and excited about the challenge," he said.
The appointment, handled by recruitment firm Hudson Walker, has prompted a reshuffle of the existing four-strong senior team.
Vicki Watkin, New Look's former buying, merchandising and design (BMD) director for kidswear and trend, has taken responsibility for teen range Generation 915, kidswear, plus-size collection Inspire, Maternity and Tall. Malcolm Collins, ex-BMD director of accessories, the 915 range and kidswear, becomes BMD director for women's accessories and footwear. Andy King remains as menswear director, while Roger Wightman will be BMD for women's core clothing.
The restructuring follows talk that New Look could be floated by next year. However, Marchant added that the changes were not in preparation for such a move. "It is nothing to do with what might happen," he said.
Since leaving M&S, Horspool has acted as a consultant for Adams Kids and holds a non-executive directorship at fashion chain Coppernob.