The figure of £86.9m for the six months to September 22 follows a drive to reduce costs and improve margins, although sales of £710.5m were still 1.7 per cent lower than a year ago.
In the latest phase of its turnaround plan, New Look has refurbished 66 of its 600-strong UK estate and plans to complete 140 by the end of next financial year as it improves on the presentation of products.
In particular, it wants to make more of its collections, including one launched by model Kelly Brook earlier this month.
New Look is also curtailing the need for promotions and sales by strengthening its mix of full-price products and scaling back its stock. The current sales performance is now showing year on year growth, having fallen by 3.1 per cent in the UK on a like-for-like basis in the half year.
Alistair McGeorge, who was brought into the company last year to reverse its falling sales and profits, said that while he remained cautious about the economic outlook he was confident New Look would continue to build on the growing momentum of the trading performance.
The business, which claims to be the biggest ‘value’ retailer for under 35 women, was founded by current shareholder Tom Singh in 1969. Its private equity owners Apax and Permira planned to raise around £650m through a stock market flotation in 2010, but it was shelved amid turmoil in the financial markets.