Coast, Oasis and Warehouse in sights of Indian entrepreneur
Ajay Khaitan heads private equity firm Emerisque Brands and reports at the weekend said the company is in exclusive talks with Kaupthing to buy the brands for around £60 million.
In the past 15 years, Khaitan has been involved in global deals for brands including Lee Cooper, Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx.
The Sunday Times reported that he has made a £60 million offer for the three brands, which would be less than the £100 million Kaupthing had been hoping for. Earlier reports linked Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s Philip Day to a bid, as well as former Brantano and Jones Bootmaker owner Alteri Investors, Office shoes owner Truworths, and Foschini/TFG, which owns Whistles, Phase Eight, and Damsel in a Dress.
The three chains that are up for sale employ around 5,000 people and operate about 750 stores and concessions. But a number of these could close when the retailers change hands with the three currently struggling to grow in a tough UK market where rents and business taxes are adding a heavy load to operations.
Coast, at least, returned to profit in its last set of results (albeit only £13 million) while Oasis profits were flat and Warehouse made a loss as big as Coast’s profits.
Emerisque is reported to be prepared to support the chains, despite their problems.
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