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New Look makes loss after French division troubles

FASHION chain New Look has swung to a full-year loss after it wrote down the value of its French business and said it would consider selling the unit.

STYLISH LOOK: But the chain has suffered a full-year loss.
STYLISH LOOK: But the chain has suffered a full-year loss.

New Look, which was founded in 1969 and runs over 1,100 stores, booked an impairment charge of £64.2 million on its French arm Mim. This pushed the retailer to a £55 million loss in the year to March 29, compared with a £3.1 million pre-tax profit a year ago.

The Mim business includes 356 stores and also has operations in Belgium, Morocco and Romania.

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."

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 its adjusted earnings lifted 5.8% to £200.2 million last year.

The group called the fashion retail market volatile but Mr Kristiansen added that he was optimistic about the UK and planned to add more stores.

It opened five shops in China last year, bringing its total to 10, with another 10 pencilled in for this year. New Look also bought back its Polish franchise of 10 stores, and said it gave the unit a solid basis from which to grow.

Third-party e-commerce sales lifted to £22 million, from £1.6 million 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.

Mr Kristiansen said the business was focused on expansion in China, Poland, Russia and Germany and had no plans to seek a flotation in the next year.

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