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New Look operations chief in shock exit

New Look chief operating officer Lex Gemas has stood down after just over a year at the business and just six months after the fast-fashion chain postponed a stock market flotation.

Gemas joined New Look’s operating board in May 2009 from young fashion chain Esprit, where he had been head of global retail since 2005. He was charged with spearheading New Look’s overseas growth and his role was later expanded to include responsibility for buying, merchandising and design.

It is thought that Gemas decided to leave because the postponement of the £1.7bn flotation would result in a slower pace of expansion. But he is also understood to have wanted a role with a focus on the Fast East and he is thought to have secured a job in the region, possibly with his former employer, Esprit.

Gemas worked alongside Will Kernan, New Look’s managing director, and reported to chief executive Carl McPhail. He was touted as a possible successor to McPhail.

McPhail said: “While we are disappointed at Lex’s decision, we have an extremely strong and experienced operational team, who will now report directly to me.”

It is thought that New Look will seek a replacement for Gemas from outside the business.

Underlying profits at New Look rose 17.7% to £163m in the year to March 27 on total sales up 10.7% to £1.5bn.

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