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New Look to Ramp Up China Expansion

New Look, one of the UK’s top value retailers for womenswear, delivered “strong” fiscal year results and now has its sights set on increased international expansion—namely in China.

The retailer, which operates 800 stores in 21 countries, reported an 8.7% rise in underlying operating profit to 153.2 million pounds ($235 million) for the full year ended March 28, and like-for-like sales saw a 4 percent uptick.

“Whilst the high street remains as competitive as ever, we have been pleased with early summer trading, seeing positive reactions to new trends,” a company statement noted. “We will continue to invest in our strategic initiatives, and we are confident that the increasing strength of the New Look brand leaves us well placed for the year ahead.”

Last month, South African investment firm Brait acquired a 90 percent interest in New Look for 780 million pounds ($1.2 billion), and the company said that while both parties are comfortable with New Look’s current leverage ratio, they are evaluating ways to optimize capital structure to cut costs and extend maturities.

“These strong results demonstrate a year of delivery against our strategy. With the support of our new owners Brait, this is a hugely exciting time for New Look, as we continue to focus on our strategic initiatives of Brand, Multichannel, International Expansion, Product Development and Menswear,” New Look CEO Anders Kristiansen said.

The company noted positive performance in its first year of trading in China. At the end of 2014, New Look had 19 stores in the Asian nation, and since opening more in April and May, it now has 30. The retailer said it expects to have 70 stores operating across China by 2016.

“Internationally, we are making great strides both in Europe and in China,” Kristiansen said. “In China, customers have responded positively to our ranges and we see the opportunity for significant growth in the country, with up to a further 50 stores due to open in the coming year.”