Heal's aims to float in March

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The Independent Online
Five managers who invested pounds 500,000 in a management buy-out of Heal's furnishings stores in 1990 will find their stake worth pounds 7.5m when the group floats on the stock market in March.

Heal's chief executive, Colin Pilgrim, finance director, Paul Clarke, merchandise director, John Davis, and two other Heal's managers invested the money when the upmarket retailer was sold for pounds 1m by Storehouse. The rest of the backing came from venture capital group NatWest Ventures.

Heal's is now seeking a stock market flotation which will value the company at pounds 15m. The listing is expected to raise pounds 10m of fresh funds which will be used to repay the venture capitalists and open more shops.

There are just three branches of Heal's - the flagship store on London's Tottenham Court Road, an outlet on the King's Road and another in Guildford.

Mr Pilgrim, who joined the company as a graduate trainee in the 1970s, said: "The Kings Road store has been a roaring success and we would hope to continue the expansion outside our catchment area." He suggested there may be scope for up to 10 branches in the UK.

Heal's is one of Britain's most historic retail names. It was founded in 1810 by the Heal family as a feather dresser, which supplied bed manufacturers. By 1840 it had expanded into furnishings and had moved into the premises on Tottenham Court Road.

The group still hand-makes its beds and has numbered the Queen and John Wayne among its customers.

Last year the group recorded trading profits of pounds 1.4m on sales of pounds 19.3m.