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Online sales up but profits down at New Look

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New Look has reported a rise of more than 40% in its ecommerce sales, despite a significant dip in both total sales and profits.

The privately-owned women’s fashion retailer, which published its full-year results this week said ecommerce sales were up by 41.4% on the previous year, and reached more than 4% of total group sales. Its newlook.com website, said the company, is the second most-visited women’s clothing website with a market share of more than 4%.

But its high street stores failed to match the cyberspace success and total sales stayed flat at £1.46bn while like-for-like sales were down by 5.5%, compared to a 1.2% rise at the same time last year. UK sales were down more markedly, at 7.1% on a like-for-like basis, compared to a 5% rise last year.

The company now sells in 1,051 stores in 15 countries, and online across 120 countries, and said that international like-for-like sales rose by 0.5%, compared to a 12.4% fall in sales last year. Underlying operating profits were down as a result, at £98.0m, compared to £162.7m last time.

Executive chairman Alistair McGeorge said: “Clearly these are disappointing results, reflecting a business that was suffering significant internal disruption against the backdrop of a deteriorating consumer economy. Additionally we allowed our price architecture to drift upwards, which undermined our competitiveness and relative value positioning in the marketplace.”

He said the emphasis was now on a “transition” to delivering “with greater consistency” great fashion at great prices.

“This is a business with a strong brand and fantastic people and we are confident we have put in place the right first steps to ensure New Look is returned to sustainable growth,” he said.

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