June 25, 2019 / 8:45 AM / 4 months ago

New Look losses mount as Brexit, rains keep shoppers away

June 25 (Reuters) - British fashion chain New Look reported a bigger annual pretax loss, hurt by a large charge, while Brexit woes and rainy weather kept shoppers out of its stores.

New Look, owned by South African investment firm Brait , reported statutory loss before tax of 522.2 million pounds ($666.4 million) for the year ended March, compared with a loss of 190.2 million pounds a year earlier.

The loss was mainly driven by a 423.3 million pound non-cash goodwill and brand impairment charge after a restructuring, New Look said.

In January New Look proposed a debt-for-equity swap to reduce its debt by 1 billion pounds, in its latest turnaround attempt. That transaction was expected to complete by June.

New Look staved off a potential collapse into administration last year when creditors and landlords backed a plan enabling it to close 60 UK stores.

“We expect the retail environment to remain as challenging as ever in the year ahead, with continued Brexit uncertainty and unseasonable weather impacting current trading,” Executive Chairman Alistair McGeorge said in a statement.

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

Earlier this month, an industry survey said British shoppers cut back on their spending in May by the most in more than 20 years, raising questions about how long consumers can keep on cushioning the economy from the impact of Brexit.

Debenhams and Marks & Spencer have announced store closures, while Philip Green’s Topshop-to-Dorothy Perkins fashion empire narrowly avoided falling into administration, as retailers struggle with rising labour costs, business property taxes and growing online competition. ($1 = 0.7836 pounds) (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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