Fashion Chain Fat Face Dressed Up For Float
The fashion retailer Fat Face is stepping up plans to make its stock market debut following a Christmas trading period in which it emerged as one of the high street's leading performers.
Sky News has learnt that Fat Face and its owner, the private equity group Bridgepoint, have appointed Citi and Jefferies to work on a flotation that would take place within months. Canaccord Genuity is also expected to be hired, according to insiders.
The listing would see the arrival of Sir Stuart Rose, the former Marks & Spencer boss and one of Britain's best-known retail executives, at the helm of another public company.
Sir Stuart, who is chairman of Fat Face, also chairs Ocado, the online grocer which has seen its share price soar in recent months.
Like New Look, another clothing retailer, Fat Face defied a broader high street trend by refusing to offer heavy discounts on its stock in the run-up to Christmas.
The result was a 5% increase in sales over the five weeks to January 4, while total sales grew by 15% in the first half of its financial year to £98.9m.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 57% to £19.6m in the six months ending in November.
"Investment in our product, service and store environment continues to build trust in the Fat Face brand and our reputation for offering quality, style and value for money.
Combined with the further expansion of our UK store portfolio and the rapid development of our multi-channel offer, this has led to another half-year of double digit sales and profit growth," Fat Face's chief executive, Anthony Thompson, said earlier this month.
The chain was established in 1988 selling T-shirts in the Alps, but now has more than 200 shops in the UK. Bridgepoint has been an investor since 2007, and has not had an entirely trouble-free period of ownership, having to inject additional capital during difficult trading conditions.
Fat Face is one of many retailers examining listings as the UK economy continues its recovery, although the mixed fortunes of high street chains at Christmas suggest that investors may be wary of backing some of those which want to sell shares on the public markets.
Appliances Online, DFS, House of Fraser, Pets At Home and Poundland are among those exploring flotations, with strongly-performing stock markets offering encouragement to retail executives.
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