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New Look now UK’s third-biggest online fashion retailer

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New Look’s e-commerce operation has become the UK’s third-biggest online fashion retailer, taking 1.3m orders in its latest financial year.

The privately-owned company, announcing its full-year results today, said had moved from fifth to third place in the market, taking a 4.1% share. The new second-generation website had approaching two million hits a week, and by the end of the year was operating in 24 markets.

The online figures came against a background of growing revenue and operating profits. Total revenue in the year to March 27 2010 rose by 10.7% to £1.46bn, while underlying operating profit grew by 17.7% to £163m. Group like-for-like sales rose by 1.2%, but the value fashion retailer fared better in its home UK market than overseas.

In the UK, like-for-like sales rose by 5.0%, with market share expanding to 5.2% from 4.7%, according to Kantar Worldpanel figures for the 24 weeks to March 28. Sixteen of the company’s 61 new store openings were in the UK. But at the same time international like-for-like sales fell by 12%, reflecting, said New Look, “market conditions in Ireland and France”. The company now has stores in 12 countries, with four new countries added this year.

Carl McPhail, chief executive of the value fashion retailer, said the “hard to predict” nature of the current UK economy would be one of the retailer’s main challenges in the year ahead.

But he added: “We remain confident in the fundamental value of our of our business and our strong future growth prospects and expect to make continued progress as we focus on driving the business at home, internationally and online.”

Our view: New Look pulled its planned flotation earlier in the year, but the success of its value proposition in difficult financial times, as evidenced by this figures, could mean it’s back on in the not-too-distant future. That’s certainly what commentators have been speculating since the release of today’s figures, which underline significant investment made in the business during the year, together with the assertion that it has no refinancing needs before 2015.

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