New Look Operating Under A Full Sail - Discover How The Value Retailer's Chairman Views Business In The Current Recession

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Earlier this month, Joe Ayling, news editor of just-style.com exclusively interviewed New Look's Chairman, Paul Wrigley, discussing everything from green shoots in the UK economy to stores in Dubai and paying a living wage in Bangladesh.

When people have more money in their pockets they have more choices and our job is to make it very difficult for them to choose other people, but we don't fear coming out of a recession, just as we didn't fear going into a recession.

With 25 years retail experience including roles at Bhs, Dorothy Perkins and Debenhams, Wrigley took charge as CEO of New Look when it went private in 2004, but relinquished his executive duties in April this year.

After being invited to the New Look offices in London's thriving Oxford Street, just-style had the opportunity to discuss the current business, how it's working through the recession and what the future holds for the business that posted a 10.2% jump in full-year earnings in June.

When asked how the business was coping with the current UK recession, where more consumers are turning to value retailers, Wrigley said "It's a simple analogy that flight to value gives people like us a following wind, but you have to have a full sail up to take advantage of that. We're pleased with the way we're working through the recession, but the business was working well beforehand."

With significant investment since 2004, worth £400m, Wrigley describes New Look's private equity owners as "really good stewards of the business". However, the challenge for value retailers is to continue their success post-recession, when shoppers regain their spending powers.

Wrigley's thoughts on this were "When people have more money in their pockets they have more choices and our job is to make it very difficult for them to choose other people, but we don't fear coming out of a recession, just as we didn't fear going into a recession."

In addition to its domestic retail chain, New Look operates more than 300 stores in France and Belgium - mainly through its Mim chain - and 23 franchises in the Middle East. During the interview Wrigley gives an insight into how the recession has impacted these international markets. "It's a bit patchy in different countries and different cultures respond somewhat differently to economic challenges it would seem," Wrigley says.

The final part of the interview looks at New Look's position on ethical initiatives. Having last year used 938 factories in 29 countries, Wrigley tells just-style that New Look is the first retailer to pay a living wage to its main supplier in Bangladesh, and without increasing overtime hours.

The interview is available for full members of just-style at http://www.just-style.com/article.aspx?id=105095. To gain access to this interview along with hundreds of other breaking news, interviews and analysis visit: http://www.just-style.com/membership

About just-style
Since 1999, http://www.just-style.com is the leading and most respected style industry trade site globally. The site's unique news and research content is produced and sourced via a dedicated editorial team, worldwide network of correspondents and content partnerships. In addition, the http://www.just-style.com research store provides instant access to over 4,000 market research reports.

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Chris Boaz
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