Troubled Agent Provocateur circled by Lion as auction approaches
Former La Senza owner Lion is understood to be among a group of potential buyers for underperforming lingerie chain Agent Provocateur.
The cirlce of buyers for the troubled brand has been narrowed to roughly three companies, including Lion, specialist turnaround investor Endless and French womenswear brand Etam, reported Sky News on Monday.
Private equity firm 3i announced in January it wanted to sell the UK retailer, which it bought for £60m in 2007, following disappointing December trading results and the discovery of accounting issues.
3i is seeking an offer which exceeds the brand’s £30m debt pile. According to Sky News, the auction is expected to conclude in the coming days.
The past few months have been difficult for the luxury lingerie brand, which has been hit hard by the luxury slowdown. The company sacked its chairman Chris Woodhouse in December due to “inconsistent execution” of the store expansion, and its current chief executive Fabrizio Malverdi is expected to leave the business once a new investor has been agreed.
Agent Provocateur’s 2016 accounting scandal has also hurt the image of the brand, which was once promoted by Kate Moss. Although 3i has refused to comments on the issues, media reports say they were related to an overstatement of profits.
This led the private equity company to launch a restructuring plan supported by an extra £4m, as well as write down the value of its investment by £39m.
The accounting issues are currently being investigated by KPMG.
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