Ashley pays pounds 621,000 to ex-directors

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The Independent Online
TWO former directors of Ashley Group, the window blind maker which needed a rescue after an ill- fated acquisition in Spain, have shared pounds 621,000 in compensation for loss of office, writes Robert Cole.

Alan Thomas and Chris Tipper, formerly managing director and finance director respectively, joined Ashley in 1988 soon after the company paid pounds 30m for Digsa, a chain of Spanish supermarkets.

Digsa was sold last year for pounds 20m to Parafax, which had former Burton boss Sir Ralph Halpern among its backers. Yesterday Ashley provided pounds 20m against the possibility that it will not receive the money, leading to a pre-tax loss of pounds 22m in 1993. The company lost pounds 65m in 1992 after the Digsa sale. It is suing Parafax.

Ashley has debts of pounds 15m. Gearing has climbed to 900 per cent, largely because the company's asset base was eroded by Digsa. The group said yesterday that it woud need a rights issue to strengthen its balance sheet.

The compensation packages were paid before new management, led by Hamish Grossart of the Scottish merchant banking family, was appointed. Messrs Thomas and Tipper resigned last November.