UPDATE 1-New Look gets offer for loss-making French business

Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:43am EDT

(Adds detail, CEO comments)

LONDON Aug 12 (Reuters) - British fashion retailer New Look has received an offer for its loss-making French unit Mim and is confident a deal will be struck.

The firm, owned by private equity groups Apax and Permira as well as founder Tom Singh, also said on Tuesday its first-quarter sales and earnings exceeded its own expectations as it tapped into key summer fashion trends such as Kimonos, printed trousers and running shorts.

Chief Executive Anders Kristiansen declined to name the suitor for the Mim business, which has over 350 stores, but told reporters it was an Asian group that already operates in Europe, though not in retail.

"We're making good progress, I think it will happen," he said, declining to say what the non-binding offer is worth.

New Look, which goes up against Primark and Next in a fiercely competitive British fashion retail market, had said in June it could sell Mim as France is not a country it plans to focus on.

Its strategy is to focus on building and developing the New Look brand in Britain, online and internationally in four countries - China, Poland, Russia and Germany.

The group said revenue rose 8.1 percent to 392.5 million pounds ($658 million) in the 13 weeks to June 28, with sales at stores open over a year up 8.9 percent. UK like-for-like sales rose 11.6 percent, while e-commerce sales jumped 39.2 percent.

New Look said underlying earnings rose 18.8 percent to 59.4 million pounds.

Kristiansen said the company was well placed for the year ahead, though he did caution that the second quarter faces tougher comparative numbers versus the year before.

"We have had a pleasing start to the second quarter," he said, noting the benefit of good weather.

New Look, which currently has net debt of 1.04 billion pounds, pulled a planned stock market listing in 2010 amid turbulent financial markets.

Kristiansen said another attempt at an initial public offering (IPO) should not be expected any time soon.

"The owners, shareholders, will decide when we should do an IPO ... I don't see that happening in the imminent future," he said.

($1 = 0.5966 British Pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Paul Sandle and Pravin Char)