New Look has been bought for £780 million by a South African magnate.
Brait, who is controlled by retail billionaire Christo Wiese, has bought a 90% stake in the budget fashion chain and the family of Tom Singh, who founded the company in 1969, and other senior management will have the remaining 10% stake.
New Look, who has more than 800 stores in 21 countries including stores in both Hastings and Bexhill, is being sold by the private equity firms Apax and Permira. In 2004, they took the chain private in a £700 million deal because the retailer had spent six years listed on the London stock market.
In 2010, the firms planned to relist New Look but the stock market flotation was abandoned due to volatile market conditions. The Brait deal means that Apax and Permira will not make any attempt to float New Look, which is carrying around £1 billion of debt.
Brait stated that it had originally bought New Look for its 600 stores in the UK and its possibility of growth in markets such as China and continental Europe. It also has a near 20% stake in the food retailer Iceland and had bought a controlling stake in the Virgin Active gym chain for around £700 million last month.
Anders Kristiansen, chief executive for New Look, will stay on following the purchase. In recent years, Mr Wiese has been linked with a string of UK retail takeovers which includes a bid for department chain BHS, formerly owned by Sir Philip Green.
Another investment of Mr Wiese’s, Pepkor, is launching a discount fashion chain in the UK called Pep & Co with Andy Bond, who is the former Asda chief executive. It plans to open 50 stores, creative 500 new jobs by the end of the summer.