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Retailer New Look begins restructure in effort to reduce costs

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Tough decisions: Nigel Oddy

Tough decisions: Nigel Oddy

Tough decisions: Nigel Oddy

High street retailer New Look, which has around 20 stores in Northern Ireland, has launched a major restructuring of its finances to reduce its costs after sales were hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said it is asking landlords to accept new lease contracts on its stores which are based on turnover as it battles the "challenging retail market environment".

New Look said 459 of its 496 stores have reopened but it has reported a 38% fall in like-for-like store sales since reopening due to the "continued impact of Covid-19 on footfall".

The high street brand closed its flagship Belfast Donegall Place store in 2019 after Primark bought Fountain House.

It had been expected to open a new store at Victoria Square Shopping Centre at the former home of luxury fashion retailer Cruise by the end of March.

However, the store has not yet opened, though there is New Look branding on the premises.

Nigel Oddy, chief executive officer of New Look, said: "As has been the case for many retailers, New Look's financial position has been significantly impacted by Covid-19, and over the past five months we have had to take a number of tough but necessary decisions and actions to manage the impact this has had on our business and our people.

"As a result of taking decisive measures to preserve and maximise liquidity since the onset of the pandemic, we have maintained our cash position through the lockdown period, and this has also in part been helped by strong online trading.

"However, current trading remains impacted by the decline in footfall seen right across the retail market, and with the pandemic ongoing and social distancing measures in place for the foreseeable future, it remains difficult to accurately forecast the sales recovery rate.

"New Look is a brand that has inspired tremendous loyalty over the past 50 years and has earned its place as one of the UK's leading womenswear retailers."

Belfast Telegraph