views

Peacocks ready to sell after bumper Christmas

Steve Dinneen
Follow Steve
FASHION retailer Peacocks may cash in on its storming run of form with a sale that could value the business at £600m.

The budget store has seen sales rocket as customers flocked to it during the recession.

Now shareholders are understood to be keen on a quick sale, with the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs leading the charge.

If a sale goes ahead it could prove incredibly lucrative for the firm’s management, with chief executive Richard Kirk owning a 30 per cent stake.

A spokesman told City A.M. that reports of a sale are just “speculation”.

Sales at established stores rose a staggering 17 per cent in December after some analysts had predicted a dire winter period.

It was boosted by a highly successful range of dresses designed by former singer Pearl Lowe, as well as an increasing online presence. The group said it plans further ranges with Lowe.

Peacocks said it planned to open around 40 stores in 2010-11, up from around 30 in 2009-10.

Meanwhile, women’s fashion chain Phase Eight is set to be bought out by its management in a deal backed by a consortium of wealthy Russian investors.

TIME LINE | PEACOCKS OVER THE AGES
● 1884
Peacocks was founded in Warrington as a family run bazaar, selling a wide range of products. It was passed down through generations of the Peacocks family, expanding to several stores.

● 1940
The store’s headquarters were relocated to Cardiff, where they remain.

● 1990s
Peacocks expanded rapidly, with its presence in Wales and the south of England picking up pace. It also added to its overseas presence, now up ot 90 stores.

● 1999
The firm is floated on the LSE.

● 2005
A £400m management buyout, supported by Goldman Sachs. Hedge funds including Och-Ziff and Perry Capital, owned 55 per cent of the new holding company.

● 2006
The firm completed its delisting, returning to private ownership.