Sofa Giant DFS Gets Comfortable With £1bn IPO
The furniture retailer DFS has drafted in bankers to prepare for a £1bn stock market listing later this year, Sky News has learnt.
Advent International, the private equity firm which owns DFS, has appointed UBS to explore options for its investment, the most likely of which involve a return to the London stock market.
A flotation is unlikely to take place until at least the third quarter of this year, with DFS's financial year ending in July.
A source close to the company, which was founded by the Conservative Peer Lord Kirkham, confirmed that it had begun examining the move amid a deluge of prospective company listings.
DFS is one of many retailers examining flotations 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 that want to sell shares on the public markets.
Appliances Online, Fat Face, House of Fraser, Pets At Home and Poundland are among those exploring share sales, with strongly performing stock markets offering encouragement to retail executives.
Advent bought DFS, the UK's second-biggest furniture retailer after IKEA, in 2010, netting Lord Kirkham several hundred million pounds.
The company is now chaired by Richard Baker, the former boss of Boots, and who also chairs Virgin Active, the health and fitness chain.
It has performed robustly during difficult economic times. Sales rose 7.4% to a record £671m during the year to July 27, with profit up 5% to £86m.
DFS had positive news last month when the Office of Fair Trading dropped an investigation into the chain's pricing practices.
Spokesmen for Advent and DFS declined to comment.
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