B&J bids for discount chain

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The Independent Online
Brown & Jackson, the Poundstretcher discount retail chain, has come to the rescue of WEW Group, the troubled owner of fellow discount group What Everyone Wants, with a pounds 6.5m bid. The agreed deal, along with the pounds 7.65m purchase of Your More Store, another retail operation, will make B&J one of Britain's biggest discount chains with 451 stores.

The 4.5p-a-share cash bid for WEW will come as a relief for shareholders, who have seen the price tumble from 129p in 1991 to 4.25p, down 0.5p yesterday. In July the group forecast a loss of more than pounds 4m for the 12 months to 2 August in the latest of three profit warnings this year and effectively put itself up for sale.

The B&J offer has been accepted by US venture capital group Warburg, Pincus and other holders controlling 28.8 per cent of the shares.

The WEW board, chaired by James Millar, the former William Low chairman, warned that in the absence of the B&J offer, the group's banks might withdraw their support after January 1998. Brown & Jackson, which is controlled by Pepkor, a South African discount group, said it expected no job losses or further shop closures to result from the takeover.

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