PE-backed New Look may sell French business: Reuters

Apax and Permira-backed British fashion retailer New Look ruled out having another attempt at a stock market listing for at least another year, though it said it may sell its loss-making French unit Mim.

The firm, owned by private equity groups Apax and Permira as well as founder Tom Singh, pulled a planned initial public offering (IPO) in 2010 amid turbulent financial markets.

“I think once we have implemented all of the things that generate value, then an IPO could be a viable option but I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future,” Chief Executive Anders Kristiansen told reporters on Tuesday.

He said that meant at least 12 months.

The group’s strategy is to focus on building and developing the New Look brand in the UK, online and internationally in four countries – China, Poland, Russia and Germany.

On that basis it is looking at a possible sale of the 356-store Mim business it bought in 2000.

Kristiansen said New Look had already received interest from potential suitors.

He was speaking after the company reported a 5.8 percent rise in underlying earnings to 200.2 million pounds ($335.5 million) in the year to March 29.

However, New Look made a pretax loss of 55 million pounds after booking an impairment charge of 64.2 million pounds to write down the value of Mim’s net assets. In 2012-13 the group made a pretax profit of 3.1 million pounds.

New Look, trading from over 1,100 stores in 24 countries, grew annual sales 3 percent to 1.53 billion pounds, with sales at stores open over a year up 2.2 percent and e-commerce sales jumping 63.9 percent. Gross margin was broadly flat at 52.7 percent. ($1 = 0.5968 British Pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton and Louise Heavens)

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