New Look year to date revenue down 5 percent

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LONDON (Reuters) - British fashion chain New Look on Wednesday reported a 5 percent fall in revenue for the first three quarters of its 2018-19 financial year, though it said its underlying sales performance was on an improving trend.

In January New Look, owned by South African investment firm Brait, proposed a debt-for-equity swap to reduce its debt by £1 billion. That transaction is expected to complete by June.

British retailers are battling a perfect storm of rising costs, uncertainty in the economy around Brexit and the structural shift online.

New Look said its 2018-19 year to date revenue was £1.07 billion, which it said was in line with its expectations given its focus on driving more profitable sales.

It said although like-for-like sales were down 2.3 percent year to date, it did see a third straight quarter of improvement in the trend, with UK like-for-like sales up 0.9 percent.

New Look also reported a year to date underlying operating profit of £38.5 million, versus a loss of £5.1 million in the same period of the 2017-18 year.

The firm said it was continuing to improve profitability in key womenswear categories, such as dresses and tops, while "some challenges" were being addressed in footwear and accessories.

“Today's results show that we continue to make good progress in delivering improved operational and financial stability despite the challenging retail environment," said Executive Chairman Alistair McGeorge.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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