Anders Kristiansen

JOHANNESBURG - Anders Kristiansen, the chief executive of New Look, owned by South African investment firm Brait SE, has stepped down after five years at the helm of the struggling U.K. high street clothing chain, which has seen  earnings slump as British shoppers cut back on spending.

A change of leadership is needed for the Weymouth, England- based New Look to start its “next phase of development,” Chairman John Gnodde said in a statement on Friday. U.K.
Managing Director Danny Barrasso will lead the retailer on an interim basis while a permanent successor is found, the company said.
New Look said earlier this month that first-quarter earnings fell 37 percent due to tough trading conditions in the U.K., where retailers have struggled since last year’s vote to leave the European Union. 

The company’s 700 million pounds ($904 million) of bonds due in July 2022 dropped 0.1 pence on the pound to 68.2 pence as of 10:06 a.m. in London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

They fell to a record low on Aug. 8, while Moody’s downgraded its debt on Aug. 16.

Shares of Brait, which agreed to buy New Look for 780 million pounds in May 2015, have more than halved since the Brexit vote as investors fret over the company’s exposure to the U.K., where it also owns the Iceland food retailer and gym chain Virgin Active.
Brait’s largest shareholder is billionaire Christo Wiese, South Africa’s fourth-richest person.      

New Look said in June that it needed to be faster at responding to shifting trends and consumer habits and has since hired Paula Dumont Lopez as its new chief creative officer. 

The company is also seeking to reduce its dependence on the U.K. high street.