* H1 pretax profit 13.8 mln stg vs loss of 13.6 mln stg
* Revenue 753.2 mln stg, up 6 pct
* Group like-for-like sales up 1.9 pct, UK up 2.6 pct
* Gross margin up 40 basis points
* CFO Alastair Miller to step down
LONDON, Nov 12 British fashion retailer New Look
swung to a first half profit driven by revenue growth,
particularly online, as well as reduced discounting and cost
savings, though it cautioned that recent trading has been tough.
"In line with the rest of the sector, current trading is
more challenging and as yet we are not seeing any benefits of
economic recovery feed through to our customers' pockets," the
firm, owned by private equity groups Apax and Permira
and founder Tom Singh, said on Tuesday.
It added that it was "well placed" for the key Christmas
Britain's retailers have enjoyed a better few months
recently as the economy has moved back into growth, though a
warm autumn has hampered some clothing chains' ability to shift
winter ranges and executives see continued pressure on consumers
with wage rises lagging inflation.
New Look, which trades from over 1,100 stores across 32
countries, made a pretax profit of 13.8 million pounds ($22.0
million) in the 26 weeks to Sept. 28, reversing a loss of 13.6
million pounds in the same period last year, on group revenue up
6 percent to 753.2 million pounds.
Group sales at stores open over a year rose 1.9 percent,
with UK like-for-like sales up 2.6 percent.
The firm's online sales jumped 78.8 percent, reflecting
improved functionality on its website and better delivery
Gross margin at group level rose 40 basis points due to
tighter control of stock and fewer markdowns.
New Look slumped to a loss in 2011-12 but made a small
profit in the 2012-13 year.
After a refinancing in May 2013 it ended the 2012-13 year
with net debt of 1.1 billion pounds.
The firm said it sees a "huge" international opportunity and
plans to open its first store in China by spring 2014.
New Look also said Alastair Miller, its long term chief
financial officer, will leave the firm when a successor is