New Look is confident that new-season autumn trends including aviator jackets, biker jeans, velvet dresses and blazers will help it ride out a rough autumn after the fast-fashion chain defied the recession to post a 17.7% hike in profits to £163m for the year to March 27.
Chief executive Carl McPhail said he was confident that next season’s looks would give shoppers a reason to continue spending, in spite of the threat of an increase in VAT and looming price hikes.
McPhail said: “From our perspective, given the price is right, the newness is there and design is too, there are reasons to spend.”
He stressed that although the retailer would have to pass on some of the cost of any VAT rise, New Look would remain competitive on lead-in prices. For autumn, dresses will start at £8 and run to £80.
Like-for-like sales in the UK rose 5% over the year with total group sales up 10.7% to £1.4bn. Margin rose 170 basis points and womenswear market share grew from 4.7% to 5.2%, which McPhail said came at the expense of middle-market chains such as Next and Marks & Spencer.
Separately, the fast-fashion chain said it would refurbish 150 stores this year, compared with 75 in 2009.
McPhail declined to comment on current trading, but said: “Clearly we face challenges - we are against tough comparatives and the
outlook for the economy is tough to predict. But we are confident in our business model.”