• Underlying operating profit up 53.5% to GBP70.9m
  • Current trading "more challenging"
  • Finance chief to step down 
Group revenue increased 6% to GBP753.2m during the quarter

Group revenue increased 6% to GBP753.2m during the quarter

UK value fashion retailer New Look has seen its first-half profit surge 53.5%, thanks to strong revenue growth, a reduction in markdowns and cost savings.

Underlying operating profit reached GBP70.9m (US$112.6m) for the 26 weeks to 28 September, compared to GBP46.2m in the same period last year. The company also reported profit before tax of GBP13.8m, from a loss of GBP13.6m in the prior year.

Group revenue increased 6% to GBP753.2m from GBP710.5m last year, while group like-for-like sales climbed 1.9%. In the UK, sales were up 5% to GBP579.4m and like-for-like sales rose 2.6%. Online sales jumped 78.8% on the prior year period.

CEO Anders Kristiansen said: "Our strategy is delivering, and there is real momentum in the business. I am particularly pleased with the margin improvement brought about by our continued focus on cost control, tight stock management and reduced discounting.

"E-commerce continues to power ahead. The improved functionality of our site and enhanced delivery options have been well received by customers and we are continuing to invest in this very important part of our business.

Meanwhile, Bernhard Ruf has been named managing director of its international operations. The company has agreed its first six Chinese stores, aiming to open the first by spring 2014.

"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.

"However, we are confident that the strength of New Look's offer, namely our product, our website, our stores and our people means that we are well placed for the busy Christmas trading period and beyond," Kristiansen added.

Separately, New Look announced the resignation of its chief financial officer Alastair Miller, who will leave the business to concentrate on building a portfolio career.

Miller, who has been with the business since 2000, will continue to serve in his role until a successor has been named and there has been an appropriate transition of responsibilities.