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Case study: New Look

State of Open: The UK in 2022

Phase One “The Open Source Journey”

Ed Alford, Chief Technology Officer


New Look, a leading UK fashion brand, is undergoing a comprehensive technology refresh and digital transformation. Led by Ed Alford, the strategy emphasises an omni-channel retail approach, redesigning store networks, and integrating technology. With a focus on open source software, New Look aims for a balanced, curated approach to maximise benefits. The plan includes transitioning to a MACH-based architecture and prioritising native app technology for iOS and Android. Security concerns are addressed by investing in robust defences and curated Open Source software, engaging i skilled third-party vendors. New Look aims to build in-house skills while bringing in fresh talent for a holistic and scalable transformation.

5.1 Case Study 3 – New Look

Ed Alford, Chief Technology Officer, New Look

New Look, a leading UK fashion brand, has an online platform that serves 66 countries, with over 225 million visits in 2021. They are a keen innovator- integrating digital elements into its store proposition and personalising customer journeys.

Press Refresh

Ed Alford is leading a complete technology refresh creating an omni-channel retail offering giving customers the same experience online, in the app and in store. The revamp re-designs the store networks and embeds technology within transactional and store management processes. New Look is already a long term consumer of open source software.

The strategy for New Look’s refresh focuses on curating the software to balance various tools, including open source software, maximising the opportunity for multiple benefits including shared libraries, bleeding edge innovation and creating a collaborative ecosystem. As Ed says, “It’s about balance, choosing what’s right for the situation you’re facing.”

Their holistic and strategic approach to the revamp means that by the end of year they will move to a more MACH based architecture and a focus on native app technology for iOS and Android . “We’ll make it more Microservices and API based, which will allow us to move with speed, being responsive to our customer needs.

New Look’s digitalisation journey is tailored for the long run. They are comfortable investing in the infrastructure now to engineer it well for the future and to avoid unnecessary future changes and take a forward looking, curated approach to open source software. As Ed says, “If we look at it through a three year lens, then we build in a way that optimises for quality and speed. We’re re-engineering the platform from the ground up, so that you wouldn’t need a point solution to solve a problem going forward. You’ll be able to use the platform and build better solutions.” 

Security Concerns

The retail sector has been prone to security hacks and malware incidents leading many companies to take out and rely on insurance against these incidents. New Look’s approach is different and instead to invest in stronger defences and software security and to use curated open source software.

Adopting any software including open source software comes with security challenges, New Look engages skilled third party vendors who invest in creating secure and reliable open source technologies as a response to the scale of their operations and mitigating risks. “It was a personal preference from a risk perspective. We use open source platforms and have paid for subscriptions or support for these from skilled providers simply because secure, reliable operations is our number one priority.”

The New Lookers

As the current transformation needs to happen at scale, there are a variety of skills required including network infrastructure, software related skills, cloud infrastructure, operating system, development, and coding skills. New Look aims to build these skills in-house among the existing workforces. As Ed says, “I believe that you should have your own core team and engineering capability in cloud platforms, app and web development, data platforms and integration platforms. The key is to have a balance of internal resources and external experts and scale up through your partners.” At the same time, they’re bringing in fresh talent, such as graduates, to foster the right environment for the long term.


With e-commerce growth continuing at a rapid pace, brands like New Look are aware of the need to invest in digitalisation to manage customer demands. Consuming Open Source Software as part of this digitalisation can provide a compelling advantage to retail businesses, with an increasing number of brands waking up to its potential.

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