New Look records losses of £55m-plus
Affordable fashion line New Look has recorded a full-year loss due to the travails of its French arm Mim, which it is now considering selling.
The chain booked an impairment charge of £64.2m due to the losses incurred by Mim, which runs 356 shops in France, Belgium, Morocco and Romania.
The losses mean that New Look, which was founded in 1969 and has 21 shops in Northern Ireland out of a total 1,100, was pushed to a £55m loss in the year to March 29, compared with a £3.1m pre-tax profit a year ago.
However, the group said its trading over the last year was strong with like-for-like UK sales up 3%, compared to a 0.5% fall in 2013.
The firm added that its adjusted earnings lifted 5.8% to £200.2m last year.
New Look chief executive Anders Kristiansen said: "We are looking at a number of options for this business, including a divestment. We have had interest from others about Mim."
The group called the fashion retail market volatile but Mr Kristiansen added he was optimistic about the UK market and planned to add more stores.
The group also opened five shops in China last year, bringing its total to 10. It plans to open 10 more over the coming year.
New Look also bought back its Polish franchise consisting of 10 stores, and said this gave the unit a solid basis from which to grow.
The group saw its third-party e-commerce sales lift to £22m, from £1.6m a year ago, as it established agreements with online specialists such as ASOS, Koovs and La Moda.
New Look is owned by private equity groups Apax and Permira, as well as founder Tom Singh.
It had planned to list on the stock market in 2010, but the move was shelved amid turmoil in the financial markets.
Mr Kristiansen said the business was focused on expansion – in China, Poland, Russia and Germany – and had no plans to seek a flotation during the next 12 months.
At the same time last year New Look had announced a return to profit following a loss the previous year. Last May it had made a full year pre-tax profit of £3.1m.