Thursday, October 28, 2021

Could French Connection finally be sold?

International retailers and private equity firms are reportedly poised to make offers on struggling fashion brand French Connection following rumors the founder may consider a sale.

The high street retailer has posted losses for five years consecutively, losing £3.5 million last year.

It recently sought advice from investment boutique Moelis, fueling speculation that founder Stephen Marks – who owns a 41 per cent stake in the company and has historically refused to discuss the businesses ailing sales – may be open to negotiations.

Brands such as Ben Sherman, US firm Neuberger Berman who own Marquee Brands, and Italian footwear retailer Bruno Magli reportedly have their eyes on the struggling fashion retailer. 

READ MORE: French Connection boss “not willing” to discuss huge losses

Both European and US private equity firms are also said to be considering making an offer.

French Connection has been under significant pressure from investment firm Gatemore, who own an eight per cent stake in the company and have criticised the owner for taking a joint role and failing to turn the tide of continual declining sales.

Gatemore had also publicly accused Marks of failing to run the company in the interests of shareholders.

According to The Telegraph, an unnamed source stated that Marks would ask for almost three times its current £32 million market value. 

With its current balance sheet, the company is valued at 32.9p a share, failing dramatically from 150p per share at its peak.

“We can see that any bidder would see value in this brand and if there is a process then we would support it as we have been advocates for a change of management,” managing director of Gatemore, Liad Meidar, told The Sunday Telegraph.

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