New Look sees sales slump in 'challenging' conditions


Fashion retailer New Look remains under pressure from tough high street trading after revealing a slump in sales.

The group said UK like-for-like sales fell by 8.8% in the 26 weeks to the September 24 as it grappled with "extremely challenging" conditions.

It pinned the dismal update on "falling consumer confidence", but said it had seen "good revenue growth online and internationally".

It came as high street bellwether Marks & Spencer revealed more trading woes from its embattled clothing division, with like-for-like sales down by 5.9% in the first half.

Clothing giant Next has also been feeling the pinch from flagging sales, announcing a 5.9% drop in the third quarter last week.

However, the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium-KPMG survey showed that UK like-for-like retail sales rose 1.7% in October, compared with the same month last year.

New Look - which was snapped up by the South African investment group Brait last year - said underlying operating profit dropped by 37% to £59.3 million over the period.

But it narrowed its pre-tax losses to £0.9 million in the first half, compared with a loss of £53.1 million the year before when it was hit by costs linked to the takeover by Brait.

New Look chief executive Anders Kristiansen said: "Following a tough first quarter, trading conditions have remained extremely challenging through the second quarter.

"Whilst sales have been affected by external factors such as falling consumer confidence, we have held our gross margin stable in the quarter and seen good revenue growth online and internationally."

The fashion retailer said it was close to opening its 100th store in China and would continue to focus on the French, Polish and German markets.

Mr Kristiansen said he was "excited and well-prepared" for the group's peak trading period in the third quarter.