New Look reports online sales growth topping 50%

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New Look said its online sales grew by more than 50% in its latest financial year, thanks to a greater choice of multichannel services and expansion of its ecommerce platforms.

“We are starting to become a truly multichannel business, with significant growth in online sales,” said New Look’s executive chairman Alastair McGeorge.

The 50.1% lift in ecommerce sales, to £94.1m, shown in the privately-owned company’s annual report for 2013 published today, helped to lift total group revenues to £1.48m in the 53 weeks to March 30, 25% up on the previous financial year. The longer year meant that the final week provided an extra £25.8m in sales.

Like-for-like sales dipped by 0.7% in the 53 weeks, compared with the same time last year. On a 52-week basis, like-for-like sales fell by 0.5%. That represents a recovery from the 5.9% fall in like-for-like sales in the previous financial year. Profits, calculated as earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and write-downs, rose by 29.1% to £189.2m.

Growth, said New Look, was driven both by ecommerce and by the new Concept store format, designed to complement new multichannel services such as Click & Collect and Order-In-Store. The format also features feature QR codes and in-store tablets that extend the range. So far the format has been extended to 145 stores with ambitions to have all stores refurbished over the next three years. The company currently has 589 stores in the UK, down by 11 on the previous year following moves to optimise the store estate.

New Look has also invested in improving its website functionality and content over the last year, along with apps for mobiles and tablets. Social media has been a particular focus and by the end of the year the retailer had two million Facebook ‘likes’ and more than 93,000 Twitter followers. Its online magazine and blog, NL Daily, saw 3.7m visits over the course of the full year.

During the year, New Look took its online fulfillment in-house through its extended Lymedale distribution centre, a move that it said “further enhanced the attractiveness of our ecommerce proposition.”

“Although we have closed a number of underperforming stores as part of our lease renewal programme,” said McGeorge, “our UK reach (93% of total population) remains more extensive than any of our key competitors. We’ve worked hard to give customers an engaging and inspirational experience, whether shopping with us online or in any of our physical stores.

“Within the past 12 months almost a quarter of New Look’s UK estate has been refitted in our new Concept format which is delighting shoppers.”

Chief executive Anders Kristiansen, who arrived at the company in January, said in his first full-year report that the company was now focusing on “better ways of presenting our great product in-store and online.”

He concluded: “Overall, our business is in much better shape. We’re in the vanguard of the multichannel revolution and we’re well placed to exploit the opportunities outside the UK that will transform New Look from a UK retailer with significant international foothold to a truly global brand.”

The company, which Kantar Worldpanel figures show is the UK’s second-largest womenswear retailer with a 5.8% share of the market, currently has 549 international stores and delivers to 120 countries through newlook.com.

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