Irish jobs safe as fashion retailer set to cull UK stores

Irish jobs safe as fashion retailer set to cull UK stores
New Look has identified 60 of its 593 shops in UK for potential closure, with 980 redundancies sought.

By Pádraig Hoare

New Look stores in the Republic of Ireland and the North are understood not to be under threat after the fashion retailer announced 60 shops in Britain could close with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs.

The firm said it was looking to reduce its UK stores and rental costs amid challenged trading performance and a difficult retail environment.

New Look said it had identified 60 of its 593 stores in the UK for potential closure, alongside a further six sites sublet to third parties. The proposal includes a reduction in rental costs and revised lease terms across 393 stores.

It said it would seek up to 980 redundancies from its more than 15,000 staff across the UK.

Sources said New Look’s 29 stores in the Republic are not under consideration for closures and that no jobs are under threat.

New Look has eight stores in the Dublin area, five in Cork, two in Galway, and at locations including Limerick, Clonmel, Dungarvan, Drogheda, Dundalk, Navan, and Ashbourne.

It also has a number of stores in the North, including 10 around the Belfast area.

There are hundreds of employees in the New Look stores throughout the Republic and the North.

New Look said it was instigating a company voluntary arrangement and seeking approval from creditors on a plan to improve the operational performance.

Executive chairman Alistair McGeorge said: “Given our challenged trading performance and over-rented UK store estate, we are having to take tough but necessary actions to reduce our fixed cost base and restore long-term profitability.

“We have held constructive discussions with our key landlords and strategic partners and will now seek creditor approval on our company voluntary arrangement proposal. A priority for us is to keep all potentially affected colleagues informed during this difficult time.”

The Irish arm of New Look, which is separately run, is said to be profitable and therefore exempt from the potential closures.

The company saw a profit of €1.38m last year, down from €1.5m in 2016, according to accounts.

The company noted, in those accounts, that it saw no “significant changes to the future of the business” in the Republic.

The potential closures come at a difficult time for retailers across the UK. More than 140 jobs at Maplin Electronics stores in the Republic and the North are under threat after an administrator was appointed to its 217 stores across the UK and Ireland last week.

Toy seller Toys R Us also appointed an administrator to its stores in Britain and the North, where it has four stores in Belfast, Derry, and Down — a move that could lead to all four being closed, said insiders.

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