New Look said its progress towards seamless cross-channel shopping was reflected in like-for-like sales growth of 3.6% during its latest financial year. At the same time, its own website sales grew by 27.9% over the year, with third party ecommerce sales up by 41.8%.
The update came as the fashion retailer reported revenue of £1.49bn in the year to March 26
, up by 5.4% on the same time last year. Over that time, like-for-like sales grew by 3.6% across the New Look brand, with UK like-for-like sales up by 3.4%. Pre-tax profits before exceptional items came in at £59.1m, some 16.8% up from the £50.6m reported the previous year. However the retailer was in the red at the bottom line, after costs of £94m, related to its acquisition by Brait and refinancing of bonds, pushed it to a pre-tax loss of £34.9m.
Chief executive Anders Kristiansen said these were good results in a milestone year - but warned of more challenging trading ahead. "With the support of our new owners Brait, we have made continued progress against our strategic initiatives as we develop New Look into a truly global brand.
"In particular, the increase in our like-for-like sales reflects the strength of our multichannel proposition. Across all our channels – in-store, online or via click-and-collect – we are ensuring that shopping with New Look is as seamless and convenient as possible."
He added: "As for current trading, retailing in the UK is more challenging than it has been for some time, and we expect some impact on the business. However, whilst we remain watchful of volatility in consumer sentiment I am confident in our strategy and our ability to continue to execute it long term.”
Online, New Look made improvements to its website and mobile app, and will upgrade its international websites during this summer with a view to improving the customer experience. In the UK, it added delivery options including next-day click and collect.
The retailer is refurbishing its stores, and during the year it took the total of those now trading in the new format to 442. Six standalone menswear stores were trading by the end of the financial year, and two more have opened since then. Overseas the company is focusing in particular on China, where, by the end of the year, it traded through 85 stores.
Kristiansen said the retailer had seen "strong local reaction to our affordable fast fashion offer" in China. “We plan to
open a further 50 stores in China during the coming year," he said. "Since the year end, we’ve opened seven more stores already, taking us to 92 altogether in this market."