Gent to quit Woolf at cost of pounds 7m

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SR GENT, the Barnsley-based Marks and Spencer clothing supplier, is withdrawing from its loss-making chain of Susan Woolf high street shops in a move that it estimates could cost pounds 7m, writes Russell Hotten.

The company said it wanted to concentrate on manufacturing, a move welcomed by the City, which marked the shares up 10p to 65p.

Gent's 28-strong Susan Woolf chain was launched in February 1993 and the company planned to open about 50 outlets.

High start-up costs and the recession meant bigger than expected trading losses. The venture cost the company pounds 2m last year, though losses this year were expected to be less. The group now hopes to sell the chain.

Gent said Susan Woolf suffered bigger trading losses than planned. 'This has affected the group's overall result, which is now expected to be below the best market expectations.' Brokers were looking for profits of about pounds 3m this year.

Gent has made provision of pounds 7m to cover the withdrawal, which will be shown as an exceptional charge for the year ended 30 June 1994. The firm expects the negative cash effect of this to be about pounds 1m.