Former Sainsbury’s boss returns to high street as chairman of New Look

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The former chief executive of Sainsbury’s has been appointed as the next chairman of high street fashion brand New Look.

Mike Coupe, who ran the supermarket for six years, will join the company later this month, replacing Alistair McGeorge in the role.

The appointment comes after New Look underwent a major overhaul in recent years under Mr McGeorge’s reign, including a controversial Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and it refinanced its debts.

Several landlords attempted to overturn the decision to cut rents, although the arrangement was eventually successful.

Brexit
Mike Coupe, the former boss of Sainsbury’s, will now lead New Look as its chairman (Sainsburys / PA)

Mr Coupe said: “I am delighted to be joining New Look at this moment in time. As a leading womenswear brand known for its broad-appeal fashion, the business has a significant opportunity to capitalise on through its omnichannel model and loyal customer base.

“I am looking forward to working closely with Nigel (Oddy) and the rest of his team to deliver long-term and sustainable growth.”

Mr Coupe will now oversee chief executive Nigel Oddy, while retaining roles as chairman of Oak Furnitureland and Harding Retail.

Mr McGeorge, who had two stints as the retailer’s chairman, said: “After four years as chairman, now is the right time for me to stand down.

“New Look is in a remarkably better position now than it was when I returned to it in 2017.

“This is fundamentally due to decisive actions taken to restructure the business operationally and financially, and to recover the broad-appeal fashion and great value that New Look is known for, which has been led by Nigel and his team.

“I leave the business in incredibly capable hands and the company will benefit greatly from Mike’s invaluable expertise, experience and oversight as it looks to continue on the positive trajectory it is set on.”

Mr Coupe will be expected to help oversee improvements to New Look’s online operations and support the business as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw sales fall 40% to £542.2 million for the year to March, but have since started to recover.

The company has also been closing stores and recently revealed it closed 39 stores to take its portfolio to 472 sites.

Mr Oddy said: “Alistair’s contribution to New Look has been invaluable. He has provided strategic vision, operational experience, and wise counsel to the board during his tenure. He leaves the business with a clear strategy and in a strong position for future growth.”

He added: “I am delighted that Mike is joining the company as chairman, and having spent time with him already, we both share the same excitement and enthusiasm to deliver on our strategy, through the combination of a cohesive omnichannel model, conveniently located stores, and feel-good fashion at great prices.”

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