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UK fashion firm New Look stays cautious despite sales rise

LONDON (Reuters) - British fashion retailer New Look posted a rise in first-half sales and profits on Tuesday but stayed cautious on its full-year outlook, saying the warm autumn weather had made the market trickier.

The privately owned chain, which competes with Primark and Next, saw sales rise 4.7 percent to 788.6 million pounds in the six months to Sept. 27, helping pretax profit jump 89 percent to 26.1 million pounds.

Those results included contributions from Mim, the French business sold to Hong Kong based Main Asia in September. Excluding Mim, pretax profit rose 30.7 percent to 28.1 million.

UK sales at New Look stores open over a year rose 8 percent in the period, the firm said, adding it had maintained its gross margin in spite of warm weather keeping many of its warmer winter wares on shop shelves.

The unusual autumn temperatures have already forced Next and SuperGroup to cut profit guidance for the year, with analysts expecting the conditions to force many firms into fierce promotional battles.

"Despite some improvement in consumer confidence, market conditions remain uncertain and the unseasonably warm weather in September continued through October. As a result, we remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of the year," the company said.

New Look has some 600 stores in the UK and Ireland and trades from another 200 across Europe, China, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.


(Reporting by Neil Maidment, Editing by Paul Sandle)