Time for long, hard look at sales

They call it fast fashion for a reason and yesterday New Look admitted that it had not been fast enough in keeping up with the latest in women’s clothing.

A failure to keep entirely on top of trends hit the retailer hard in the third quarter, with its UK sales falling sharply. Like-for-like figures were down by 4.7 per cent, pushing its comparable sales performance down by 7.3 per cent.

Though Anders Kristiansen, chief executive, said that the number of customer visits to its stores had fallen, he blamed the dip in performance on “taking our eye off the ball” in key categories in womenswear. “New Look has always been known for spotting the trend first,” he said. “Whether it was the kimono or the onesie, New Look owned it on the high street.

“However, ripped denim has been a challenge and the most important category during this period of the year is knitwear and we didn’t get that right.”

Mr Kristiansen added that New Look’s plans to diversify away from womenswear were gaining ground. It now has 19 standalone menswear stores, which it said were trading profitably. It is also expanding overseas, particularly in China.

However, overall its results were disappointing. New Look said its underlying operating profit had fallen by 26.1 per cent to £52.2 million during the third quarter. In the year to date, its underlying profit is down by nearly a third at £111.5 million.

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