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New Look seeks change of leadership to revive fortunes

Anders Kristiansen vacates CEO position; retailer’s UK and Ireland managing director Danny Barrasso appointed as interim CEO.

British budget fashion retailer New Look, which is owned by South Africa’s Brait and struggling with declining sales in a fiercely competitive UK market, said chief executive Anders Kristiansen had left the company.

New Look had been one of Britain’s most popular retail names for decades, offering fashionable clothes at lower prices, but has seen its sales slide over the past year amid rising competition from the likes of online retailers Asos and Boohoo and Inditex’s Zara, which can bring the latest trends to stores more quickly via its local supply chain.

“As New Look embarks on its next phase of development, we have mutually agreed that it is the appropriate time for a change to the leadership of the company,” New Look chairman John Gnodde said in a statement.

Kristiansen had been at the helm for five years.

A source told Reuters on Friday that given recent changes in the consumer environment and New Look’s performance, Brait had decided that he was “not the right guy at the moment”.

This had lead them to “quite quickly” decide to seek new leadership, the source added.

Brait, in which South African retail mogul Christo Wiese is the top investor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while a New Look spokesman declined to comment.

Last month the retailer reported a 4.4% decline in revenue for the 13 weeks to June 24, which Kristiansen said was a “disappointing quarter of trading” and vowed to ramp up efforts to cut costs and deliver a better “product proposition”.

New Look named Danny Barrasso, managing director for UK and Ireland, as interim chief with immediate effect as its board searches for a permanent CEO.

New Look was set up in 1969 and Brait acquired nearly all of it for $1.2 billion in 2015.

Investors and analysts say that the retailer needs to become even faster in identifying and responding to trends. It has hired Paula Dumont López, who has previously worked for Inditex and will join New Look as chief creative director this month from Espirit.

Barrasso, who has been with New Look since 2012, was appointed interim CEO because he knows the business “inside out”, said the source, adding that Brait and New Look’s board intended to search internally and externally for a permanent CEO. 

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