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New Look requests three-month rent holiday

Lauretta Roberts
24 March 2020

New Look is seeking a three-month rent holiday from landlords as it seeks to cut its costs during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

The fast fashion retailer closed all of its 480 stores in the UK and 28 stores in the Republic of Ireland on Friday 20 March, ahead of the mandatory shut-down of non-essential retail today.

Its e-commerce operations remain in action and deliveries to home and Collect+ locations remain available, however the retailer is pulling back on costs as far as possible to mitigate the lost business.

Its measures include the cancellation of forward orders for fashion (to be reviewed as the situation evolves), halting all recruitment, "significantly" reducing marketing costs, delaying significant Capex project and requesting the rent holiday.

Chief executive Nigel Oddy said: “Our absolute priority is to keep our customers and colleagues safe, which underlined our decision to temporarily close our stores in advance of Government advice to do so. Given the unprecedented circumstances that we - like all retailers - are operating in, we have taken a range of decisive and immediate actions to help us navigate through the coming period.

“We are confident that a combination of these ongoing actions, the significant financial and operational progress we have made over the past two years with our turnaround plan, and the strength of our brand mean that we will be well positioned to return to growth when a more normalised operating environment resumes.”

The company said it was actively seeking to take advantage of the Government support measures introduced to help businesses through the crisis such as a 12-month rates holiday.

It also said that following its financial restructuring in May 2019 the company entered the COVID-19 outbreak with "strengthened liquidity". It said it had no near-term maturities on its long-term debt funding, which matures in 2024, and has the ability to toggle cash interest to PIK to provide additional debt servicing flexibility.

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