Retail highflyer Christo Weise is planning to push New Look in China following his close to £800m purchase of the fast fashion chain last month.
Brait, the billionaire’s investment company bought the high street retailer for £780m from private equity firms Apax and Premira. The acquisition came shortly after Brait had purchased an 80% stake in Richard Branson’s fitness chain Virgin Active for £682m.
Wiese asserted his autonomy in the expansion decision stating that Brait did not intend to interfere with New Look’s management and would stand as a long-term investor. The investment company would provide a cash injection if necessary.
“The previous owners were typical private equity players, in other words ‘show us the cash and we have got a time limit’. Brait is not like that,” said the South African tycoon. “Brait is a long-term holder, happy to support management in their aspirations without the sword of an exit, be it an IPO or a trade sale, hanging over their heads and without the constant pressure to generate free cash.”
He claimed that New Look is the “right vehicle” to sustain his presence in China. The retailer opened its first stores there last year and plans to open 50 new stores in the country this year.
In addition to China, Wiese believes that the Eurozone possesses plenty of growth opportunities despite its recent economic difficulties. “People talk about Europe having gone ex-growth, I don’t necessarily agree with that but the way Europe looks is going to change, there’s going to be a lot of lower [income] people,” he said.
Wiese claims he is focused on the lower end of the retail market and trusts that Europe is the next step to tackle and cultivate.
In addition to his retail interests, Wiese plans to acquire deals in sectors such as renewable energy. “What I do think is still lacking in our broader range of businesses, is something that I like to describe as sunrise industries; renewable energy, these disruptive technologies. I would like to have an involvement in that . . . but you have got to have the right candidate” he added.