Menswear is New Look’s dark secret

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Rising sales for its menswear collection helped to brighten an otherwise gloomy quarter at the fashion retailer New Look, which has become the latest casualty of a high street slump.

The fashion chain, bought last year by the South African Brait group, reported a 6.6 per cent fall in like-for-like UK sales for the quarter ending June 25 as shoppers stayed at home amid poor weather at the start of the summer and uncertainty before and after the Brexit vote.

However, sales of men’s fashion rose by 21 per cent as it rolled out standalone menswear stores, which Anders Kristiansen, New Look chief executive, said were the reason for the success. “Guys just like shopping in a male environment. Our stores are very masculine and very dark. It really works for guys.”

Menswear now represents 3 per cent of its sales, against the 25 per cent mix in the wider market. This month it will open its 13th and largest menswear store at Gateshead’s Metrocentre.

Mr Kristiansen said that it would be too easy to blame the weather for the overall sales drop-off. “It’s our job to manoeuvre around the weather. We could have done a better job by having more layering pieces and not so many short-sleeved shirts and dresses,” he said.

The drop in store sales was offset by healthy growth in New Look’s online business. Sales on its website rose by 9 per cent.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 29 per cent to £43.3 million.

It posted a pre-tax profit for the quarter of £2.7 million against a loss of £73.3 million for the same period last year, when it incurred a one-off £93 million cost related to its takeover.