Revenue at high street retailer New Look dropped by 2.5% to £1.45bn in the year ending 25 March 2017 as the fashion market remains highly challenging.
New Look brand like-for-like sales were down 6.6% while UK like-for-like sales were down 6.8%, however own website sales were up 14.3% and third party online sales were up 30.9%. Profits were hit by the sales performance and investment in strategic initiatives. Underlying operating profit was down 44% to £97.6m while adjusted EBITDA was down 31.8% to £155m.
Nonetheless CEO Anders Kristiansen said the business was making good progress against its strategic initiatives adding that it had retained its market position as the number one UK fashion retailer for women under 35 and maintained its position as the number two UK retailer for women’s footwear.
It had also continued to align its stores and online operations with a third of all online orders now picked up in-store and two-thirds of all returns taken to stores. In menswear it has increased its stand alone store portfolio to 21.
However Kristiansen said he expected the challenging market conditions to continue into 2018 and the business had made plans accordingly. “The retail environment is now more competitive than ever. We have seen a growing shift in customer mindset during the year to a ‘buy now, wear now’ mentality, which challenges us to be even faster in identifying and responding to trends, buying with more conviction and becoming ever more agile,” he said.
“We’ve responded by improving our buying processes, working to achieve an even faster supply chain and strengthening our Buying and Design teams to make sure we deliver a stronger product proposition,” he said. Kristiansen added that the business would seek to make its entry-level prices even more compelling for consumers and to reduce reliance on discounting.
“We expect trading conditions for the coming year to remain challenging. We remain resolutely committed to delivering on our strategy for the benefit of all our customers and stakeholders and are confident we have the right strategy in place to do so,” he said.