H&C Furnishings to buy Kingsbury for pounds 48m

The consolidation of Britain's fragmented furniture retail market took a step forward yesterday when H&C Furnishings made an agreed pounds 48m offer for the rival Kingsbury Group.

The deal follows other moves which have seen Allders and Furniture Village snap up parts of the collapsed Maples empire. H&C Furnishings, in which the Carpetright chief, Lord Harris of Peckham, has a significant stake, was formed through the merger of the privately owned Harveys Group and Cantors last year.

The deal will give the enlarged H&C 380 stores and catapult it to number three in Britain's pounds 6.9bn furniture market behind MFI and DFS. Rod Templeman, H&C's managing director, pointed out that more than half the market was still held by independents. "We believe the market will consolidate and this deal puts us at the forefront of that," he said.

Mr Templeman said the deal was likely to achieve more than the pounds 2m of annualised savings gained from the Harveys and Cantors merger.

Kingsbury's head office in Northampton, which employs more than 100 people, will be closed. Around 12 stores are also expected to close. But Kingsbury's plans to open six new stores will continue while H&C will open a further 15 branches in the next 15 months.

The Kingsbury outlets will be rebranded under the Harveys name.

H&C's offer is 185p per Kingsbury share, payable in new H&C shares. There is a 175p cash alternative. H&C Furnishings shares rose 24.5p to 279.5p. Kingsbury shares put on 26.5p to 200p.

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