Belfast Telegraph

New Look outlines global expansion plan after profits surge

New Look has outlined a £100 million investment plan that will see it expand into Germany and grow its presence in China following a surge in profits.

Speaking to the Press Association, chief executive Anders Kristiansen said: "We want to expand into the German market, we have one concession at the moment and we'll open our first store in October. We want 75 stores over the next five years."

Mr Kristiansen was speaking after New Look notched up increased sales and profits in its first full year of ownership under South African firm Brait.

Revenue rose 5.4% to £1.4 billion, driven by a 3.4% increase in like-for-like sales at its UK stores. Website sales were up 27.9% and in China, where it has 92 stores, like-for-like sales grew 8.8%.

Pre-tax profits grew 16.8% to £59.1 million and New Look said it would open 50 more Chinese stores, taking its total to 142.

Brait, which acquired New Look for £763.5 million in May last year, has given the green light to increase investment from £73 million to £100 million in order to fund the expansion drive.

However, Mr Kristiansen warned that retailing in the UK is "more challenging than it has been for some time", flagging poor weather and Brexit fears impacting on consumer sentiment.

He said: "There are a number of factors affecting consumer sentiment, they include spending in other areas, weather and the referendum.

"I don't know exactly how we're being affected by the referendum, but it is creating nervousness and uncertainty. We want to get past June 23 as quickly as possible.

"But it doesn't worry me because that's retail, that's what we have to deal with. We have a solid foundation, a good strategy and a new owner committed to that strategy."

The chief exec said that New Look is preparing for both scenarios, adding: "If it's remain, then it's business as usual. It's it out, then it will be a challenge, but we are well hedged [against currency fluctuations]."