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Laura Ashley looking for buyer
Posted on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 14:51
UK-headquartered textile designer and fashion retailer Laura Ashley has said it is keeping its eyes peeled for a buyer after appointing administrators to the company.

The firm said it had filed to hire Rob Lewis and Zelf Hussain of PwC and expects the application to be approved later today.

As a result of this process, Laura Ashley is to close 70 of its UK stores permanently, with some 721 staff affected by the move. Its remaining 77 locations will trade as normal.

The company is applying to cancel its stock, which is currently listed on the London Stock Exchange.

No prospective acquirors have been named at this time and it is not clear how likely a deal is to take place, or the potential timeframe of any purchase.

Laura Ashley has a history dating back to 1953 and opened its first store in 1960.

The firm has been publicly traded since 1985, having gone public in an IPO which was 34 times oversubscribed two months after the death of its namesake founder.

It currently operates some 23,000 retail locations throughout North America.

Reuters picked up on the announcement of the administrators being appointed and note that the firm’s sales have fallen and its home furnishings business has weakened, while the ongoing spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus also had a significant adverse effect on operations.

The most valuable deal targeting a UK-based retail trade company to have been announced in 2019 was worth USD 2.45 billion and saw TDR Capital pick up BCA Marketplace in November, according to Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk.

This was followed by the USD 788.00 million issue of convertible bonds conducted by online grocery retailer Ocado in December.

Other companies in the sector to have been targeted last year included the likes of supermarket operator Morrisons, bags retailer FarFetch UK and clothing seller Boohoo.

© Zephus Ltd