• H1 EBITDA edged up 1.4% to GBP119.5m
  • Total sales rose 3.2%
  • UK like-for-likes down 4.5% 

Budget fashion retailer New Look today (11 November) posted a small rise in first-half earnings, but warned of a tough environment and price rises in the New Year.

The note of caution came as the company said adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) edged up 1.4% to GBP119.5m (US$193m), from GBP117.8m a year earlier.

Sales in the six months to 25 September rose 3.2%, against what the company described as "a challenging UK market backdrop."

Like-for-like sales, however, fell 3% across the group as a whole, with a 4.5% drop in the UK partially offset by a 2.5% rise in its international business. E-commerce sales surged 68%.

The group, which operates 1,034 stores around the world, said sales at UK shops open more than a year suffered some disruption from the move of its buying, merchandise and design teams to central London.

But it was buoyed by figures showing its UK market share had increased to 6.0% from 5.7%, consolidating position as UK's second largest women's clothing and accessories retailer.

Looking ahead, chief executive Carl McPhail said: "The consumer spending environment remains difficult, in addition to which, rising input costs and the impending increase in VAT are likely to result in price rises in the New Year.  

"We expect like-for-like growth to remain subdued in such an environment. However we are confident that the proven strengths of our brand and business model will allow us to react appropriately to market conditions and to deliver growth in the longer term."