Retail round up the Sunday papers
Chinese giant swoops on House of Fraser, Duos pet project, Footballer races to rescue pasty chain, Brothers tasty deal, Just Eat staff ready to cash in on float, House of Fraser chairman in line for huge windfall, Green launches Arcadia empire in India, Booming Ocado plans three giant new centres, Well take Karen Millen upmarket, Card Factory eyes summer flotation, B&M buys German discount retailer Jawoll, HMRC to appeal against high court award
A Chinese tycoon is in advanced talks for a shock takeover of House of Fraser, one of Britain’s oldest high street chains. Sanpower, a Nanjing-based conglomerate run by Yuan Yafei has tabled a bid that values the department stores at more than £450m. The two sides have been in secret discussions for several months. The talks follow a protracted search for investors led by House of Fraser’s chairman Don McCarthy.
The co-founders of Asos, the online fashion darling, and Achica, a luxury lifestyle store, are trying to take on Pets at Home and Tesco with a website aimed at animal lovers.Quentin Griffiths and Will Cooper have started Astarpets.com, an online marketplace selling accessories and services, such as dog walking. They have hired Chris Webster, the former international commerce director of eBay, as chief executive.
A Club of investors, including the former footballer Danny Mills, is close to sealing a deal to buy West Cornwall Pasty Company. Mills, who was capped 19 times for England, is among the backers of a fund that is in exclusive talks to take control of the struggling high street chain. The investment vehicle, called Enact, was set up last year by a group of financiers and entrepreneurs to invest in small and medium-sized businesses.
The billionaire Livingstone brothers have bought a controlling stake in Thames Wharf, the west London development that houses the River Cafe, the acclaimed restaurant founded by Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray.
A clutch of senior staff at Just Eat are in line for a paper windfall of as much as £50m as the online takeaway service puts the finishing touches to its £1.5bn float. The awards will come from the bonus and stock option schemes that the company has cooked up to retain its top executives. Under the plan, ‘key personnel’ will collect shares equivalent to about 3.5% of Just Eat, which is to list on the London Stock Exchange this week.
Mail on Sunday
Department store giant House of Fraser has fired the starting gun on a £450 million flotation that could bring chairman Don McCarthy a £90 million windfall. The listing would take the total value of retailers floated on the market this year to more than £5 billion. The ten board executives have been told to ‘clear their diaries’ for the next six weeks to make legal and financial preparations and to meet fund managers to drum up interest in the share sale, which is expected to take place by July.
Fashion tycoon Sir Philip Green is breaking into the Indian market for the first time as part of a global push for his Arcadia Group brands, including Topshop. The billionaire has launched a range of Dorothy Perkins products with Indian web giant Jabong. Jabong was recently boosted by a £20 million investment from the British Government through a development fund set up to support businesses in Africa and South Asia.
Grocery delivery firm Ocado is looking to build up to three giant distribution centres in different parts of the country to cope with booming demand. Ocado delivers Waitrose ranges as well as its own branded products. It also runs Morrisons’ home delivery business, which launched in January. Speculation has been mounting over the potential location for the company’s third large warehouse, which is expected to be revealed this year. Ocado managers are said to have spoken with potential developers in Manchester and Kent.
As boomng fashion chain Karen Millen heads upmarket with new stores for New York’s Fifth Avenue and London’s Knightsbridge, it comes as a surprise to hear chief executive Mike Shearwood also talk enthusiastically about a launch in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. It seems an odd choice, but Shearwood is convinced the newly wealthy women of Asia are a key market.
Card Factory is planning to join the list of retailers looking to float on the stock market with an initial public offering that could value the discount retailer at more than £700m. Charterhouse, the retailer’s private equity owner, is working on float plans with UBS and Morgan Stanley and an IPO could be launched by the summer. In his first newspaper interview, Card Factory chief executive Richard Hayes said the retailer wants to expand from 700 stores to as many as 1,100 in the UK.
The discount chain B&M has underlined its ambitions to expand overseas ahead of a £2bn IPO by buying German retailer Jawoll. The deal marks B&M’s first foray outside the UK, where it has built a collection of 375 stores and employs 17,000 people. B&M is chaired by Sir Terry Leahy and run by Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora. The retailer is one of the most ambitious in the UK and has grown annual sales to £1.2bn since the Arora brothers took control in 2005.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has insisted it will appeal against a high court decision to award Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay's Littlewoods catalogue shopping business £1.2bn in a top-up settlement relating to a long-running legacy VAT dispute. The judgment handed down on Friday is thought to be one of the biggest single company defeats for HMRC, which had already paid out £470m to Littlewoods in 2004 in an attempt to settle the matter.
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