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New Look founder Tom Singh steps down after half a century in fast fashion

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As New Look founder Tom Singh retires after 50 years at the company he founded, we take a look back at the history of the retailer, which this year is ranked Elite in IRUK Top500 research.

New Look founder Tom Singh said this week that he was to retire, following the completion of the company’s latest financial restructuring, while new members of the fast fashion retailer’s board include former Tesco chief customer officer Robin Terrell. 

Singh will step down from the board at the end of June, a month after the completion of a restructuring transaction that saw the company restructure its long-term debt. 

Alistair McGeorge, New Look executive chairman, said this week: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Tom for his immense contribution to New Look over the past 50 years. His vision in pioneering ‘fast fashion’ has supported New Look’s growth from a single shop in Taunton into a leader in the UK womenswear market. We look forward to continuing Tom’s legacy and further strengthening New Look’s market position.”

Tom Singh said: “I’m incredibly proud of all that we have achieved at New Look over the past 50 years. There have been many challenges, but I have been fortunate to work with inspiring and dedicated teams. Thanks to their hard work, and New Look’s loyal customers, the brand has remained a leader in the highly competitive womenswear market. With the financial restructuring now complete, I look forward to seeing the company develop successfully.”

Singh set up the business, now an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, with one single shop in Taunton in 1969. By 2009 it had 1,000 shops in the UK and Europe. The company started selling online in 2007 and in 2011 launched both a click and collect service and its mobile app. 

But although the retailer has embraced multichannel retailing, it has also needed to adapt to the realities that online shopping has brought with it. Under current executive chairman Alistair McGeorge New Look has followed a back-to-basics approach that has seen up to 60 stores close, taking its store estate to under 600. It pulled out of China while its Belgian, Polish and French businesses went into administration.

In November 2018, the retailer was back in the black, with an underlying first-half profit of £22.2m, although sales of £656.9m were down by 4.2%. By the end of that period, it had 593 stores in the UK while online sales – from a website that ships to more than 66 countries around the world – accounted for 14% of its business.

Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon

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