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New Look to make menswear online-only category

UK fast fashion retailer New Look has confirmed it is to stop selling menswear in its stores in the UK and Ireland but will continue to make the range available online and on third-party online platforms such as Asos and Zalando.

In a statement to just-style, the retailer said: "The extra space will allow the company to extend its womenswear and 915 ranges and form part of a greater in-store concessions offer."

New Look has already exited the majority its standalone menswear stores and says the process will continue over the next four to six months, with menswear no longer available in-store by the autumn.

At the end of its third-quarter, New Look operated 11 menswear stores, down from 21 stores at the end of full-year 2017.

The move is the latest in a series of steps the retailer has taken in recent months as part of its wider bid to drive profitable growth.

In February, New Look said it continues to make good progress on its turnaround plan, with a return to broad appeal product, improved supply chain lead-times, and cost reductions giving a much-needed boost to third-quarter profit.

And last month it said its Poland division had filed for insolvency, just two months after winding down its Belgium division. It also said in January it was seeking new investors for its stores in France.

Pippa Stephens, retail analyst at GlobalData, notes after a challenging few years for the retailer it is not surprising that New Look's menswear store offer is the first to be cut.

"As a retailer best known for its womenswear ranges, New Look has struggled to drive male footfall into its stores and convince shoppers to shift their loyalty from leading menswear retailers such as River Island, Primark, and H&M," she says.

"The UK menswear market will reach GBP11.3bn in 2019 and is forecast to grow 10.8% by 2024, outperforming womenswear, so it remains one of the more desirable markets for retailers to target. However, since opening its first menswear standalone stores back in 2015, New Look has come under increased pressure from online pureplays such as boohooMan and Asos, grabbing the attention of the younger male shopper via a strong social media presence and daring trends. New Look must now focus on trend-led pieces and affordable prices to drive appeal online via third-party sites Asos and Zalando, and ensure it stands a chance of winning over shoppers."

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