Financial News

  • 8 October 2012, 18:11

Exclusive: All Saints Chairman Sacked

Kevin Stanford, the founder of All Saints, has been sacked as the fashion chain's chairman following a long-running dispute with its controlling shareholder.

I have learned that Mr Stanford was fired about two weeks ago by Lion Capital, which rescued All Saints by investing 105m in the company alongside another firm last year.

Lion, the private equity firm which previously owned La Senza, the lingerie retailer, is now attempting to agree a deal with Mr Stanford to buy out his 15 per cent shareholding in All Saints.

People close to the situation said that Mr Stanford had been suspended from his role as chairman at the beginning of this year and had had no day-to-day involvement with the business since.

A meeting between lawyers for Mr Stanford and Lion is understood to be in the process of being scheduled in a final effort to reach a settlement.

Insiders suggested, though, that a rapprochement remained a distant prospect, with Mr Stanford understood to have been insisting that his stake was worth millions of pounds more than the value attributed to it by Lion.

A spokesman for Mr Stanford declined to comment.

Under the rescue deal struck last year, Mr Stanford kept a 15 per cent stake in All Saints but with the potential for that shareholding to increase depending upon the future performance of the chain.

When Lion invested, All Saints had been struggling in the wake of over-expansion and sales growth which had not kept pace with the level of capital required to run the company.

Lion and Goode Partners, a little-known private equity firm, acquired 76 per cent of All Saints from the failed Icelandic banks Kaupthing and Glitnir. Goode has since sold its stake.

The decision to part company with Mr Stanford effectively ends his association with the chain he founded in 1994. He also established Karen Millen with his eponymous co-founder and in the last year has joined the board of the parent company of House of Fraser, the department store group which also had Icelandic backing.

Last month, All Saints appointed William Kim, a senior Burberry executive, as its new chief executive. Stephen Craig, Mr Kim's predecessor, quit a year ago after clashing with Mr Stanford over the management of the company.

The recruitment of the new chief executive is designed to provide a platform for a more measured expansion of the company, including in overseas markets.