Sunday News Roundup
Berry Bros gambles on a new strategy, London Fashion Week: UK style walks tall once again, Dixons looks to expanded services as new stores flourish, Handbag maker Longchamp launches Regent Street store, Family-run coffee bars 'railroaded' off train platforms to make way for big corporate chains, Luxury car dealer HR Owen accepts £42.4m offer from Malaysian tycoon, London launch is in the bag for Moynat, Maxine Hargreaves-Adams: the heiress who bought two faded British labels, Perrys low net return, Hedgie bankrolls gym club buyout, Butlins owners cash in.
"For the first 30 years we never sold this to anyone but the Royal Family,” Simon Berry says casually, as he points to a bottle of The King’s Ginger, a liqueur invented in 1903 for Edward VII to drink while driving in his Daimler.Berry chuckles at the less than humble beginnings of a drink that is now helping to drive growth at the 315-year-old wine and spirits merchant he oversees. But then nothing about Berry Bros & Rudd is ordinary. The historic headquarters of the family-owned business, which has supplied the Royal Family since the reign of King George III, has more treasures than most museums.
British Fashion Council boss Caroline Rush reveals new deals as sector leaders arrive in London. Today marks the mid-point of London Fashion Week, the twice-yearly, five-day trade show that sees 5,000 buyers, designers, celebrities and generally beautiful people descend on the capital. By the end, they will have taken in 73 shows and presentations and left behind countless uneaten canapes. But they will also strike deals thought to be worth £100m and form opinions with major ramifications for an industry that employs 816,000 people in the UK and directly contributes £21bn to the economy.
Dixons Retail is considering launching a local electrician and repairs service after revitalising its high street stores. Sebastian James, Dixons’ chief executive, is looking for ways to expand the retailer on the back of finally agreeing deals to offload its troublesome internet business Pixmania and its struggling Turkish arm. “We have trump cards we haven’t played yet,” Mr James said. “I have an electrician in most postcodes most days. What more could we do?”
The chief executive of the luxury handbag maker, Longchamp, has hailed London as a “global city” as the French company prepares to open its biggest store in Europe on Regent Street. In a boost to London and the UK, Jean Cassegrain, chief executive, said that London is a “key city” for Longchamp and offered access to UK and global shoppers. Longchamp is one of the world’s best known luxury brands and believes that its Le Pliage handbag is the best selling handbag in the world. Since 1993, more than 26m versions have been sold. The company’s decision to open its biggest European store in London is a vote of confidence in the city’s economy.
Mail on Sunday
Small family run coffee bars and shops are being ‘railroaded’ off the nation’s train platforms to make way for big corporate chains as part of a revamp of the railways, campaigners have warned. The David and Goliath battles between mega-chains and tiny independents are being fought the length and breadth of Britain as rail bosses seek to upgrade stations. Transport experts say it is leading to the creation of ‘clone-town’ stations as much-loved long-running family businesses with genuine character are forced to make way for glossy identikit chains.
The HR Owen board has accepted an increased £42.4million offer for the luxury car dealer from a firm controlled by Malaysian tycoon Vincent Tan, bringing a two-month bid battle to an end. Tan’s bid vehicle, the investment group Berjaya Philippines (BPI), upped its offer by more than 30 per cent to 170p a share from the 130p a share it first bid for HR Owen in July.
France's richest man and luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault is bringing his new luggage brand to the UK. Mr Arnault, who controls luxury goods group LVMH and luxury mega- brand Louis Vuitton, will launch Moynat in London in time for Christmas. The brand, which is owned by Groupe Arnault rather than LVMH, will open at 109-112 Mount Street in Mayfair.Moynat Malletier, a trunk maker founded in 1849, ceased trading by the 1970s. Mr Arnault bought the name in 2010 and has spent the past three years creating the foundations of a new luxury goods label. He hired former Hermès bag designer Ramesh Nair and opened a store in Paris at Rue Saint Honoré.
The daughter of the founder of Matalan may have riches, but she's always been interested in rags. Now she hopes to revive the fortunes of Nicole Farhi and Fenn Wright Manson, She may have learned her trade at the cheap warehouse store Matalan, but Maxine Hargreaves-Adams has certainly moved up the fashion food chain: in the space of 18 months she has bought two designer labels. While other fashionistas fight for seats at this week's catwalk shows in London, Hargreaves-Adams is putting together plans for the revival of British labels Nicole Farhi and Fenn Wright Manson. The Monaco resident, whose billionaire father John Hargreaves founded Matalan, says the brands have an "exciting opportunity to evolve", and has put international expansion high on her agenda.
Fred Perry, the fashion brand, has recorded a dip in profits as a result of the “challenging economic situation”. Pre-tax profits fell in the year to March 31 to £32.5m, from £34.2m a year earlier. Turnover increased from £120.7m to £122.7m. The bottom line was also dented by the cost of launching three stores and two websites. The London-based brand was born in the late 1940s when Tibby Wegner, a former Austrian footballer, approached Fred Perry, the three-time Wimbledon tennis champion, with the idea.
The hedge fund famous for its role in the deal that led to the near-collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland has emerged as the main backer of the £750m takeover of David Lloyd leisure clubs. The Children’s Investment Fund (TCI), which helped prompt the 2007 sale of ABN Amro to RBS, provided debt funding for this month’s buyout of David Lloyd by TDR Capital, a private equity firm.
The owners of Butlins holiday parks and Warner hotels have received bumper dividends of almost £46m since the start of last year. Accounts for Bourne Leisure, parent company of the holiday businesses, reveal that shareholders received £29.1m in 2012 and a further £16.6m this year. The payouts came after a 10.7% rise in pre-tax profits to £107.8m. Sales rose 3% to £838.6m.
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