Brait's Turnaround Plan for U.K.'s New Look Helps Cut Loss

(Bloomberg) -- Brait SE’s recovery strategy for New Look is starting to bear fruit as the U.K. clothing retailer returned to profit and improved its market share in womenswear, helping the South African investment company narrow losses.

  • Brait’s comprehensive loss in the six months through September fell to 235 million euros ($265 million). New Look swung to an underlying operating profit of 22.2 million pounds ($28.6 million).

Key Insights

  • Fitness chain Virgin Active has proven a more shrewd investment than New Look, with memberships and revenue on the increase. Gym users in South Africa tend to be on the wealthier end of the spectrum and more insulated from the country’s economic downturn.
  • U.K. supermarket chain Iceland got a boost from price rises fuelled by inflation, though Premier, the South African maker of Blue Ribbon bread and Snowflake flour, posted lower revenue as consumer spending slumped.
  • Brait is preparing for a new phase of acquisitions over the next 18 months to achieve a broader spread of investments. These will be primarily focused on consumer-facing and industrial firms in South Africa and the U.K., so no break in strategy.

Market Reaction
  • Brait shares traded 2.1 percent lower at 10:01 a.m. in Johannesburg on Tuesday, bringing its decline this year to 10 percent.