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Robert Dyas sale put on hold to assess Christmas performance

The sale of Robert Dyas has been delayed until next year so that would-be suitors can evaluate Christmas trading.

The hardware retailer, which has been put up for sale by owners Lloyds Banking Group and Allied Irish Bank, has won “extensive” interest from UK and international trade buyers and several private equity funds, according to Cavendish Corporate Finance partner Paul Herman, who is managing the sale process.

An information memorandum, expected to be distributed to prospective buyers in September, has been put back.

Herman said: “On the back of some strong trading in recent months, the shareholders have now taken the decision to delay the immediate sale and instead review the possibility of an exit in spring 2012.”

The proposed deal comes as erratic trading and volatile consumer confidence has created a difficult environment to sell retail businesses. Several high-profile transactions have stalled.

Jewellery group Aurum, which operates Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland, has put its sale plans on ice until after Christmas and online retailer The Hut has put off an IPO.

Some high-profile deals are still being thrashed out including the possible sale of frozen food specialist Iceland, struggling electricals retailer Comet and Garden Centre Group. A price tag of about £25m has previously been mentioned for Robert Dyas, which operates 100 stores.

Robert Dyas chief executive Stephen McVey, who joined in June, has previously said it was looking for an investor who would provide capital investment to fund new stores and refurbishments.

McVey said the business had growth potential, particularly to roll out stores in the North of England. Most Robert Dyas stores are in the Southeast.

Lloyds and AIB secured the retailer’s future two years ago through a debt-for-equity swap. Debts were halved to £15m under the deal and annual borrowing costs were cut by £2m.

The company made pre-tax profits of £2.7m in the year to March 27, compared with a loss of £10.4m the prior year.

No comment was available from Robert Dyas.

Source : Gemma Goldfingle – Retail Week

28 October 2011
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