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New Look like-for-likes slip as profits soar

New Look’s EBITDA soared 25.2% to £86.9m in its first half despite UK like-for-likes dipping 3.1%.

Total group sales dropped 1.7% to £710.5m in the 26 weeks to September 22 and group like-for-likes slipped 3.3%.

New Look chairman Alistair McGeorge said current sales performance was, however, showing year-on-year growth.

He said: “These results reflect the significant progress we have made and the positive steps we have taken in our recovery plan, in spite of the continuing tough trading conditions on the high street.”

There was a “significant improvement” in the value fashion retailer’s gross margin as it reduced markdown sales.

New Look said it had achieved the first phase of its recovery plan, which was to reduce operating costs, and would continue to cut these overheads in its next financial year.

New Look said it is delivering “strong results” in its second phase of its recovery plan, which is to improve margin.

McGeorge said New Look will focus on improving EBITDA as it aims for more full-price sales and fewer discounting events.

The third phase of its recovery plan concentrates on driving sales, which McGeorge said would hinge on product improvements and better presentation in store.

New Look has pushed ahead with its store refit programme over the half, revamping 26 stores. Another 120 are planned in the current financial year.

International business also experienced a “strong improvement”, according to the retailer, and its multichannel business continues to “rapidly grow”.

McGeorge said: “While we remain cautious about the economic outlook for the remainder of the financial year and the continuing squeeze on customers’ disposable income, we are confident that the actions we’ve taken to address our product, brand, stores and costs will continue to build on the growing momentum of our trading performance.

“Our mission remains the same as it has ever been: to deliver exciting, authoritative, appealing fashion, at the right price every time, and across whichever channel is most convenient to our customers.”

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