* 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
* CEO says can't see company listing in next 12 months
* CFO Alastair Miller to step down
By James Davey
LONDON, Nov 12 British fashion retailer New Look
cautioned that trading in the key Christmas quarter had got off
to a slow start with unseasonably warm weather since the end of
September making it harder to sell winter coats, jumpers and
"We've had (an) unseasonal warm October and beginning of
November and it's pretty tough out there," Chief Executive
Anders Kristiansen told reporters on Tuesday, though he said the
firm had no plans for pre-Christmas discounting and was still
optimistic it could have a good third quarter.
Britain's retailers have generally enjoyed a better year as
the economy has moved back into growth, though executives see
continued pressure on consumers with wage rises lagging
Last week Marks & Spencer, Britain's biggest
clothing retailer, reported a ninth straight quarterly fall in
underlying general merchandise sales.
Shares in M&S, Next and Debenhams were all
lower on Tuesday.
"As yet we are not seeing any benefits of economic recovery
feed through to our customers' pockets," said Kristiansen.
New Look, owned by private equity groups Apax and
Permira, and founder Tom Singh, swung to a first-half profit
driven by revenue growth, particularly online, as well as
reduced discounting and cost savings.
But Kristiansen said he could not see New Look, which has
net debt of 1.09 billion pounds ($1.74 billion), joining the
current rush for stock market listings.
"I'm not the shareholders, basically it's up to them to
decide. But I can't see us doing an IPO in the next 12 months."
New Look pulled a planned flotation in 2010 amid turbulent
The firm, which trades from over 1,100 stores across 32
countries, made a pretax profit of 13.8 million pounds 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 options.
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.
The firm said it sees a "huge" international opportunity and
plans to open its first store in China by spring 2014 and have
about 20 by the end of that year.
A big push is also planned into Germany, Russia and Poland.
"All of them, maybe apart from Poland, can be as big as the
UK, or significantly bigger," said the CEO.
New Look also said Alastair Miller, its chief financial
officer, will leave the firm when a successor is appointed.