New Look founder Tom Singh is believed to have postponed a sale of its French basics chain Mim after he kicked off a review of the New Look business.
A buyer for Mim is already thought to be waiting in the wings and New Look is believed to have been considering a sale of the 300-store value chain for some time.
However, Singh - who was parachuted in as executive chairman last month following the ousting of chief executive Carl McPhail - is thought to have postponed plans for the sale, which would free up management to focus on fixing New Look’s UK business, while he considers options. Singh is known to be putting the UK product ranges at the heart of his turnaround strategy.
According to sources close to New Look, Mim director general Xavier Wilmes could be primed to lead a management buyout of the business, which operates in France and Belgium and has separate buying, merchandising and design teams to New Look’s core UK operation.
New Look acquired Mim, which targets a younger and more value-conscious shopper than New Look and has an average store size of just over 2,000 sq ft, in June 2003. It has remained profitable but its sales performance has been mixed.
In the full year to March 27, 2010, Mim represented the lion’s share, some 52.6%, of New Look’s international sales, which were £313.9m.
At the time, New Look said its performance had been on an improving trend.
One source said: “Mim is performing well at the moment. Over the years [under New Look’s ownership] it has been up and down. But what it gave to New Look was a feeling it was an international business of 1,000 stores, when really it just added 300 stores in France.
“It [a sell-off] has been talked about over the years and it was deliberately kept fairly separate as a business so if New Look ever needed to sell it off it would be easy. The buying, merchandising and design departments are run totally separately and only a few functions like accounts payable are run together.”
New Look declined to comment.