Value of retail M&A activity dives 16 per cent in one year as high street feels the heat

Josh Mines
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M&A activity saw a £600m drop in value in just one year (Source: Getty)

The number of M&A deals in the UK's retail sector jumped 15 per cent in the last year, although the value of all activity took a 16 per cent dive.

Retailers have taken a battering in the start of 2018, as firms including Carpetright, Toys R Us, and most recently Jacques Vert owner Calvetron have been forced to close stores or, in Calvetron's case, file for administration.

But the figures out today showed that woes on the high street were not dampening all M&A activity, as the number of deals completed in the year up to March 31 went up from 32 to 37.

Data from City law firm RPC showed that though the number had risen, the total value of the deals had dropped 16 per cent to £3.7bn from £4.3bn - a £600m difference.

This can partly be put down to the number of relatively low value deals in the clothing and fashion sector more than doubling from five to 12.

The value of M&A activity also didn't include the mammoth £7.3bn merger between supermarket giants Sainsbury's and Asda, which was announced last month.

Read more: Sainsbury's shares soar on Asda merger tie-up details promising price cuts

RPC explained that the deal continued a recent trend in food retail as large incumbents use M&A to add economies of scale and boost the slowdown of organic sales growth.

"Despite some notable exceptions, such as Joules, which continues to report impressive results since its 2016 listing, overall retail sector IPOs have fallen," said RPC's Karen Hendy. "That means investors looking for an exit are focused on selling to other retailers rather than going to the stock market.

"Through mergers such as Asda and Sainsbury's, market leaders are looking beyond all the hype about the 'meltdown of the high street' and getting on with building breadth of offering and scale."

The figures follow research that showed the number of retailers in financial distress had risen by a fifth in the last year.

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