Cantors merger expected

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Cantors, the furniture retailer, is expected to announce a merger this morning with Harveys Holdings, the home furnishings retailer controlled by Lord Harris, the Carpetright chairman.

Neither side would comment on the proposed deal yesterday but it is expected to be announced with Cantors' results, which have been delayed until today to enable final negotiations to take place.

The merger would in effect be a reverse takeover by Harveys, which is by far the larger company. It is thought that Lord Harris had considered taking Harveys public but thought the group too small. The merger would give Lord Harris two publicly quoted companies.

Cantors shares were suspended at 175p when the company said it was in negotiations with Harveys. At that price Cantors is valued at pounds 26.1m.

The two companies make a good fit. Cantors is strong in cabinet furniture with many stores in the north. Harveys, which has 170 stores, is strong in soft furnishings with a stronghold in the South-east. Harveys is expected to be the main trading name.

Cantors, with its 70 high street shops, has been hit by out-of-town competition. In January it reported profits of just pounds 53,000.