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Has Jigsaw approached acquisitive Foschini about sale?

Published
today Nov 20, 2017
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Jigsaw is believed to have approached the owner of Whistles and Phase Eight as it seeks an urgent deal to boost its finances ahead of Christmas, a news report said Friday.


Jigsaw



The industry was shocked at stories late last month that said the chain was up for sale and potentially faced a pre-Christmas cash crunch, although Jigsaw said at the time that it was “no secret” that it was “open to strategic investment to drive ongoing expansion.”

Now Sky News has reported that the firm’s advisers have held talks with possible new owners including The Foschini Group (TFG), which recently added Hobbs to its already-extensive UK assets (Damsel in a Dress as well as Whistles and Phase Eight).

If TFG did end up with control of, or a stake in, Jigsaw it would see the South African firm being one of the biggest names in middle-market UK fashion retail and a major destination for the contemporary and 35+ consumer.

But it isn’t the only potential bidder in the running, it seems. Investors that specialise in turnarounds are also reported to have been invited to bid with a Friday deadline. They include R Capital and Aurelius Advisors.

Jigsaw is controlled by its founder John Robinson who has appointed KPMG to explore options and at the same time, lenders have also been approached about refinancing, Sky reported.

Jigsaw has around 80 standalone stores and has been a resilient business in recent years. In the year to September its sales rose 8% to around £100 million. It has a strong appeal to 20-, 30-and 40-something shoppers with a quality positioning and a blend of staples and low-key trend-based pieces.


Jigsaw



But after its higher sales so far this year and current trading also believed to be far from weak, what exactly is its problem? The company has faced issues such as higher costs due to the weakness of the pound after last year’s Brexit vote. Unlike some bigger names in UK fashion retail, it doesn’t seem to have had robust ‘hedging’ deals in place and so took the full force of the higher prices that foreign suppliers charged. Heavy investment in its store estate and in IT have also squeezed its cash flow.

None of the parties mentioned in the news report have commented on it, Sky said.

Jigsaw has been making waves recently with its ad campaigns. A recent pro-immigration campaign saw it getting widespread praise (as well as some criticism). And it has just unveiled its animated Christmas campaign dubbed Have A Jolly Lobster.

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