FII chief sells 12% stake for £5.5m

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The Independent Online
Monty Sumray is handing over the executive reins at FII Group, one of the largest footwear makers in the UK which he founded 30 years ago, to a management buy-in team led by Charles Ryder, currently joint managing director of Claremont, the clothi ng group.

"It's been a real fight in the last three years or so. I'm 76, and I think we need younger people," said Mr Sumray, who is selling his family's entire 11.7 per cent stake for £5.54m. Mr Sumray will remain as non-executive chairman, while Mr Ryder, who fronted the 1988 management buy-in of Magellan Industries, the lingerie and swimwear maker, becomes chief executive.

Investors welcomed the hand-over and accompanying news that FII's profits recovered from a depressed £551,000 to £1m in the half-year to 30 November and that the dividend was being held at 6p. Shares climbed 38p to 323p, the highest level for more than ayear, and 8p above the price Mr Ryder, Roddy McDougall and Oliver Penn, who also worked for Magellan and are joining the company as non-executive directors, paid for their investment.

The management buy-in team, which is backed by Schroders Investment Management, is taking a company that has strong trading links with Marks and Spencer and owns one of the oldest shoe names in the country - Lotus shoes.

Mr Ryder, who was approached by Charterhouse Bank, financial adviser to FII, said: "The company has a sound operational base, but we need to put it in marketing drive." He said it was too early to say whether any businesses would be sold. FII also has interests in scientific, medical and laboratory equipment.

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