Belfast Telegraph

Stock Exchange listing for retailer New Look

By Graeme Evans

Fast-Fashion retailer New Look yesterday announced plans to list on the London Stock Exchange in a move set to raise around £650m.

New Look, which is owned by buy-out firms Permira and Apax Partners, said the proceeds will be used to pay down debt and position it for further growth.

It currently has 1,010 stores, including 20 in Northern Ireland, and generated sales of more than £1.3bn in its most recent financial year.

Two years ago the group abandoned plans to float after a lukewarm response from investors, while a £2bn sale of the business also failed when the company was unable to agree a price.

Weymouth-based New Look was founded in 1969 by Tom Singh, and was taken private in 2004 by Apax and Permira for £700m, with Mr Singh retaining a stake.

Since then its new owners have invested around £450m in the business, although it currently has an estimated £1.1bn debt.

As well as the offering of £650m of shares, New Look said there was the possibility that existing shareholders will sell some stock.

Chief executive Carl McPhail said: “The announcement is the latest exciting stage in our development and we look forward to growing our business, both in the UK and internationally.”

The City is viewing New Look as a test case for a string of potential retail flotations, which could include fashion company Matalan, Merlin Entertainment and grocer Ocado.

The last company to be floated by private equity backers was fund management group Gartmore and it was forced to lower the price of its IPO to 220p – almost 16% from the mid-point of its target price range.

Belfast Telegraph