// Investment firm Flacks confirms possible £20m bid to buy Laura Ashley
// Comes a day after retailer’s chairman denied receiving any formal takeover bids
US-based investment firm Flacks Group has confirmed that it is considering a bid to buy British fashion and lifestyle retailer Laura Ashley.
The news comes a day after Laura Ashley chairman Andrew Khoo said they did not receive any formal offers, in response to a Sunday Telegraph report that indicated Flacks was set to approach the Malaysian controlling shareholders about making the retailer private.
Flacks has now confirmed that it was in the “very preliminary stages” of a takeover bid for Laura Ashley, and that any possible takeover offer would be limited to 2.748p in cash for each share, valuing the retailer at about £20 million.
If Flacks Group, owned by Manchester-born Michael Flacks, acquired Laura Ashley, it would reportedly focus its attention on the US market and markets outside of Europe.
In a Monday statement to investors, Laura Ashley chairman Andrew Khoo said: “As far as I am concerned, there is no takeover bid because there has been no approach whatsoever.
“If and when an approach is made, the board will discharge its duties as always and assess it on its relative merits.”
Khoo added: “I would, however, like to state for the record that as major shareholders of Laura Ashley, we have no intention of divesting our controlling stake.
“Whilst I understand why potential parties would think we are significantly undervalued, I have complete confidence that we will be able to grow profitably and in a sustainable manner so as to create long-term value for our shareholders.”
The Khoo family own more than half of Laura Ashley.
The retailer recently announced plans to close a quarter of its 150 stores in a bid to offset the impact of tough online competition and sluggish consumer spending.
Laura Ashley also swung to a £1.5 million loss in the final six months of 2018, although fashion like-for-like sales were up by 11.8 per cent for the same period.
Meanwhile, the homeware and fashion retailer warned that its full-year profits will “fall short of market expectations”.