New Look is a top fast-fashion retailer in the United Kingdom with over 400 retail stores worldwide. The company also has a solid eCommerce presence. However, few know the story behind this phenomenal retailer and how it became the leading fashion brand it is today. New Look History explores how the company turned its shrinking revenue into a profitable one. It also offers many lessons that many industry professionals can learn from.
In this New Look history, we’ll dive into the company’s beginning and the marketing strategy it employed to achieve its current market status. In addition, this case study will shed significant insight on New Look so other industry professionals and apply them to their growing retail business.
New Look History – The Beginning
Tom Singh is the founder of New Look and launched the company in Somerset in 1969. Since then, the company has significantly expanded globally with hundreds of stores in the UK and many more internationally. Tom Singh is among the first fashion retailers to create the Fast Fashion retail strategy, propelling the company. The company has a long reputation for being on the cheap end of the industry as they produce low-cost goods. They also redefined fast fashion by providing over 800 new products weekly. However, the beginning of New Look history wasn’t about fast fashion.
It begins with Tom Singh’s grandfather, who moved to the United Kingdom in 1930. He was followed closely by Singh’s parents when he was just a baby. His grandfather and parents opened a drapery store in Somerset and built a chain of retail stores. Despite his retailing background, Singh decided to study International Law and Geography. After graduation, he decided to set up his business, and he took a loan of £5,000 from his parents. This was enough to open the first store in Taunton, which was southwest of England.
He named the store New Look and sold women’s garments in the store. Singh bought these garments from suppliers in the Far and Middle East. It allowed him to offer his customers a wide range of styles that appealed to the rural customer base. It also allowed the fashion store to maintain low prices. This retail strategy enabled Sign to build New Look into a leading retail chain in the country. The idea behind New Look history was to offer a wide variety of choices while consistently changing merchandise so that customers will continually come back.
New Look History - Expansion
This idea worked as Singh customers kept coming back. Singh also began to target new customers and opened New Look Stores in new locations. New Look kept to the Southwestern regions of England at first and only opened stores in the small market towns. The company remained modest and opened a store every nine months. The company became a family affair as his wife and brother-in-law joined him in running the business.
Tom Singh was a hands-on manager at the company and participated in different aspects of the company’s operations. For example, he frequently drove to London to pick up new stock and delivered these stocks to different New Look stores. Additionally, Singh participated in sorting and pricing merchandise. He also handled several administrative functions like hiring staff and paying bills.
The company maintained a provincial image throughout the 1980s and well into the 1990s. During this period, many people viewed the company’s clothing as unfashionable. Despite this, New Look attracted new customers and continued to build up sales. By 1989, the company had over 46 stores, and it was in this year, Singh decided t step up the company’s expansion. He hired Gavin Aldred as the managing director of the company. Aldred is a close friend of Singh and was the first person outside the family to hold a prominent position in the fashion company.
A New Retail Value in the 1990s
Aldred previously worked as a retail consultant. However, he was also involved in several failed companies, and this came to haunt New Look when the company sought a listing on the London stock exchange. In the meantime, Aldred and Singh put together a management team and hired John Hanna as co-managing director. This move helped to set New Look on a massive expansion drive.
At this point in New Look history, the company began looking outside its southwest base for new locations. At the same time, the company also began to target larger towns and urban areas. As a result, the company opened new stores in Haywards Health and Guildford. Within a year of Aldred becoming a part of the company, it doubled its retail chain with over 70 stores available.
New Look grew into a national retail chain of over 200 stores within five years. The company sales also increased by 50% within these five years. Additionally, the company’s profits grew by 80% in the same period. The company, which started in small markets, was now ready to take the company to larger markets and the urban High Streets. Singh was ready to take his company to the stock market to increase this expansion and help his parents cash in on their initial £5,000 investment worth 50% of the company.
New Look History – Entering the Stock Market
The company canceled its initial public offering scheduled for November 1994 at the last minute. Several factors were behind the cancelation, including the poor climate of the new stock issues. Also, the company’s aggressive expansion was called into question by analysts. One Analyst told the Independent that New Look came into the market when all the easy growth took place. Therefore, the company was now expanding into larger towns.
Stock analysts also worried about the many in-family deals, including transactions amongst several companies owned by the Singh family. Analysts also pointed out the purchases made by the company of holdings from the Singh family’s pension funds, including payments made to Singh and his wife the same year. These raised concerns that New Look was too much of a family-run business to offer investors the confidence they needed in their stocks. Additionally, the presence of Aldred raised concerns for many potential investors because of his involvement with failed companies in the past. Another Analyst suggested that investors were simply reluctant to back a company owned by an Indian.
It wasn’t till 1998 before the company started making new preparations for a public offering. Jim Hodkinson was now the company’s chief executive officer. Additionally, Gavin Aldred stepped down from his position. At this point, New Look history showed a ten-year growth record that also enabled the company to excel in its new IPO. Due to this, Tom Sign became one of the wealthiest retailers in the United Kingdom. His holdings were valued at over 170 million.
New Look History – The Fashion Retailer Today
The competitiveness of the UK’s retail market placed lots of pressure on the company as it entered the 21st century. Its rapid growth through the 1990s failed to impress a stock market skeptical of retail stocks in the market. Most investors also believed that New Look had reached saturation in its home market.
Despite this, New Look continued to grow in popularity amongst British consumers. As a result, the company retained its proud position as a leading women’s clothing retailer in the United Kingdom. Today, New Look is available worldwide and continues to grow in the value-priced and discount fashion market. New Look has won over 141 awards over the years and is amongst the most popular fashion and clothing brands in the fashion industry based on YouGov research.
New Look Marketing Strategies
Despite much turbulence in the last decade, New Look history shows that the company continued to expand its stores worldwide. In addition, their crucial marketing strategies facilitated their performance. This helped the company survive a turbulent performance and also increase its numbers. Below are some of these critical strategies implemented by New Look.
Significant Change Across the Organization
The company faced numerous challenges over the years. Therefore, New Look management made bold decisions to help the company survive and improve. Some of the crucial steps taken by new look to turn the business around include
- Withdrawing from unprofitable markets
- Building a stronger online presence
- Reducing the company’s physical assets
- Cutting down the company’s product range by 25%
All these helped cut costs for the company and made it more agile in marketing new products and improving its finances. Additionally, the company changed its focus from significant sales volume to profitability.
Aligning their Online and Offline Customer Experience
New Look’s website makes up 20% of their total turnover, while the website makes up 10% of the sales. These numbers are remarkable but didn’t happen overnight. New Look started building its eCommerce channel in 2007 and continually investing in a smooth omnichannel experience. The company also utilized its physical store as a core part of the customer’s experience. As a result, customers picked up 41% of online orders from the store. In addition, 64% of returns were also absorbed in the physical location, significantly reducing shipping and handling costs for the fashion company.
Strong Social Media Strategy
Although social media contributed to the company’s overall traffic, it also drives revenue and engagement for the brand. The company’s average engagement for ten posts is 268,000 likes and over 2000 comments. In addition, they created a mix of organic posts, daily stories, sponsored collaboration with several influencers, and giveaways to keep the fan’s attention.
However, New Look history shows that its secret sauce is user-generated content. They included a call-to-action on their bio, stimulating fans to create content using their branded hashtag. This has worked extensively with over 100,000 posts so far. New Look continually maintained the admiration of Millennials as it has over 43% favorable opinions. A report also shows that Gen X and Millennials are the biggest online shoppers. With a solid social media presence, New Look can build customer loyalty.
New Look continually puts itself as a value of the high-street fashion retailer. Although the company has been through many turbulent periods, it can strive through impressive marketing strategies. The company continues to improve its social and eCommerce presence, giving a new look to its marketing strategy. With insight into New Look history, other industry professionals can learn valuable lessons on thriving in a competitive business.