Is it or isn't it? Reports say Jigsaw is on auction block
One of the UK’s highest profile high street fashion names is believed to be seeking a new minority investor or possibly even a new owner with Jigsaw as the UK fashion retail sector faces ongoing weak sales.
But there is confusion over whether it actually is up for grabs with the firm saying that “at this stage no sale process is under way”. Yet a spokesperson also said that “Jigsaw has made no secret of the fact it is open to strategic investment to drive ongoing expansion… A number of approaches have been made and these are being discussed.”
Several major news organisations, including the BBC and Sky News reported unnamed sources talking about a possible sale with current retail sector woes seen as being behind the move, but few details were available.
It’s believed the firm’s options could include the sale of a minority stake with current controlling shareholder John Robinson reportedly having appointed KPMG to handle the process.
Unnamed sources have said that the chain of around 80 stores plus concessions is trading strongly, despite the likely speculation about its financial position that will inevitably come with the news of the possible sale.
The news came just a day after the latest UK retail sales survey showed that retail in Britain has been weak in the latest month. Other recent reports have seen Debenhams detailing a clothing sales dip and even John Lewis’s fashion sales having been weaker than earlier in the year during the past few weeks.
John Robinson founded the Jigsaw brand in 1970 with a store in Brighton and in the ensuing 47 years it has been seen as a beacon in the UK fashion sector. Despite being the owner of luxury and quirky fashion concept store The Shop at Bluebird, its focus on quality classics with a twist and its solid middle-market positioning has carried it through a number of UK economic downturns.
CEO Peter Ruis was upbeat in a media interview only this week and the company reported sales in the year to September up 8% to around £100 million.
However, Sky News said it has faced problems due to its exposure to negative foreign exchange issues and its significant investment in stores and IT.
Other major names in UK retail have been up for sale recently with Hobbs and the trio of Oasis, Coast and Warehouse reportedly struggling to find buyers to meet their owner’s expected prices, and Shop Direct earlier having taken itself off the block for the same reason.
While UK firms are currently looking cheap for foreign buyers given the weakness of the pound, the uncertain UK retail environment means buyers want to purchase them at rock bottom prices
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