Asprey loses more shine as shares drop 20 per cent spacey

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Asprey, the Bond Street luxury goods group whose subsidiaries include Garrard, the Royal jeweller, faced a fresh crisis yesterday when a wave of selling by small investors caused a further collapse in the company's share price.

Asprey shares, which stood at 335p last April, lost a further 20 per cent of their value yesterday, slumping from 84p to finish at 68p.

The Asprey family, which owns 52 per cent of the company's shares, has seen the value of its holding plunge from £134m to just £27.2m in less than a year. In December the Asprey family and chief executive Naim Attallah both bought chunks of shares at nearly double the current price.

Last year there was speculation that the family, led by chairman John Asprey, was interested in turning its back on the City and taking the company private.

Yesterday, an Asprey spokesman said a buy-back had been mentioned as an option in the past if the shares fell to a "ridiculously" low level.

The company refused to comment yesterday on whether such a level had now been reached. Mr Asprey then acknowledged: "If this nonsense continues then one's feelings towards the City are not as warm as they should be."

However, Mr Attallah said that it was the company's intention to retain a stock market listing.

There is also some doubt as to whether the family could afford to buy the remaining shares.

Asprey has had a disastrous six months since a profits warning in September knocked more than 100p off the share price.

The warning was caused by the loss of some high-spending customers, such as governments and wealthy Middle Eastern clients who were regular purchasers of the Bond Street store's notoriously expensive baubles.

Asprey came under further pressure in November when an article in a Sunday newspaper alleged that the company was in potential default of its loan facilities. The company denied the claims.