Billabong unveils rescue plan as TPG takeover talks continue

Kasmira Jefford
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BILLABONG, the struggling Australian surfwear chain, yesterday unveiled a turnaround plan in an attempt to fend off a A$694m (£456m) private equity bid, even as it reported it had swung to a full-year loss.

Chief executive Lorna Inman laid out a four-year strategy to simplify the business, focus on core brands and expand its online presence in order to return to positive sales growth.

However, she warned that trading conditions would remain challenging in the coming year.

Billabong reported a full-year net loss of A$276m compared with a profit of A$119.1m a year earlier.

Private equity firm TPG International made an offer in July to buy the company for A$695m, five months after Billabong rebuffed a previous, higher offer that valued the company at A$841m.

Inman said talks with TPG were ongoing. The group has previously said the latest offer is too low.

Shares in the company have fallen more than 75 per cent in the past 18 months, as sales have fallen in US and Europe after consumers cut back on spending and brands lost some of their appeal with young shoppers.

Its business also suffered after it made an ill-timed global expansion just before the financial crisis in 2008 that left it with a heavy debt load.