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First Russian New Look store to open in next month
Jan '09
The Directors of Markerpost Limited are pleased to provide the half year update on the performance of the company and its subsidiaries ("the Group" or "New Look") for the six months ended 27 September 2008. The information contained in this statement is unaudited.

In the six months to 27 September 2008 the Group has increased sales revenue by 13.5% compared to the same period last year. This performance is a testament to our proven strategy of offering the latest fashions at compelling prices to our customers and was achieved in challenging trading conditions, and poor summer weather.

New Look's expansion is a result of its clear focus on 4 growth drivers; UK store rollout, range extension, ecommerce and international expansion. Focusing on these growth drivers has enabled New Look to increase market share in all core categories. We are proud to be the No. 1 retailer for womens' footwear in the UK.

The Directors believe that the Group's continued focus on its strategic objectives will enable New Look to continue to grow its market share in a weak economic environment.

In the UK we have opened 7 new stores including new concept stores in Liverpool and White City. For existing stores, we have implemented a space review programme to drive the most efficient product mix. Early results are encouraging with a positive impact on LFL sales for the 265 small stores impacted.

Internationally we have opened an additional 25 stores including a 13.6k sq ft flagship store in Forum Les Halles, the largest shopping centre in Paris. We are preparing to enter the Russian market with a franchise partner. The first Russian New Look store is expected to open in February 2009.

During the first half of the year we launched our exclusive range of women's clothing, accessories and footwear, called Limited Edition, in the UK and internationally. We will launch our Limited Edition swimwear range in the next few months.

In the second half, our New Look women's range will launch an increased Tall and Maternity offer. Following the successful launch of the Giles menswear range, both in store and online, we will be bringing our suiting range for men in-house, as part of our Men's growth strategy in 2009.

Online sales have continued to grow strongly, supported by improvement in site performance and a steady introduction of our in store ranges online.

At the launch in December 2007, our online offering was limited to a selection of our womenswear range. During 2008 we extended womenswear and have added Maternity, Tall, Inspire, jewellery, lingerie and 915. In October 2008 we added Menswear, including our exciting new Giles range.

Since our launch we have seen a massive growth in visitors and have already become the 6th most popular destination for online apparel shopping in the UK, with 2.9 million visitors in September 2008. We continue to develop and enhance our online experience to customers and believe that this new channel will add further resilience to New Look's business model.

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