Investment: Share offers made to perk you up

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The Independent Online
THOMSON TRAVEL and Thistle Hotels whetted the appetite of would- be investors and made sure of a successful share float with "free" perks, available only to founder shareholders. Neither company has been a particularly good investment, but loyal Thomson shareholders get discounts on selected holidays and qualify for seat upgrades, extra luggage allowances and preferential room allocation.

Thistle investors still sitting on their shares qualify for 15 per cent off published room rates, and restaurant bills when non-resident, plus a 30 per cent discount on breaks.

When Eurotunnel floated in 1987 investors were promised cheap trips. The shares have given them a mostly downhill ride, but all who hold 1,000 shares for at least three months are entitled to 30 per cent discounts on three return or six single journeys on Le Shuttle.

Not all these offers are the proverbial sprats to catch mackerel. Travel, leisure, restaurants and booze suppliers make up more than half the 110 quoted companies offering perks to shareholders, shows the survey compiled annually by the Bristol-based brokers and asset managers Hargreaves Lansdown.

They include Friendly Hotels, Jurys, Millennium & Copthorne, Queens Moat Houses, Regal Hotels, Ryan Hotels and the Swallow Group, British Airways, Airtours, First Choice Holidays, Granada, Rank and the Hilton Group, Scottish & Newcastle, Whitbread, and brewers, Burtonwood, Eldridge, Pope and Fullers.

Holiday-makers heading for Jersey can get 25 per cent off B&B in three hotels owned by Ann Street Group if they hold 100 shares at around pounds 3 each. Manganese Bronze, the taxi manufacturers, offers investors buying 200 shares a pounds 5 voucher for a Fairway or TXI cab.

Dedicated DIY-ers with 250 shares in Meyer International, at a touch over pounds 4 each, should have a privilege discount card at Jewson outlets. Holders of 500 Norcros shares get 10 per cent off products from Norcros Adhesives, H&R Johnson Tiles and Triton showers. Travis Perkins shareholders also get vouchers entitling them to 10 per cent off the list price of any item up to pounds 500.

And anyone wanting Magnet bathroom or kitchen appliances, windows, doors and conservatories at anything from 20 per cent to 50 per cent off should first invest in a minimum of 100 Berisford shares, an outlay of pounds 240. If you can afford pounds 4,300 for 2,000 shares in Arcadia the new holding company of Burton menswear, Dorothy Perkins and Top Shop, you can get a 12.5 per cent discount. Storehouse, Selfridges, Debenhams, Bentalls, Courts, Beales and House of Fraser offer discounts or vouchers.

Signet offers discounts on jewellery, Austin Reed, Gieves and Moss Bros offer discounts of 10 to 20 per cent off full-price clothing. Brooks Service group and Johnson Service offer shareholders discounts on their dry-cleaning bills. Psion shareholders with 100 shares get 15 per cent off on any product, and Emess offers 30 per cent off selected lighting fittings.

Iceland offers vouchers worth 10 per cent off groceries and appliances. Two of the longest-running perks come from P&O with discounts of up to 50 per cent on cross-Channel ferries to holders of at least pounds 600 worth of the 5.5 per cent preference stock, which will cost around pounds 700, and AB Foods, which has been giving food hampers to shareholders attending the AGM for at least 40 years. Bensons and Bulmers give shareholders free samples at the AGM and Park Foods offers discounts off its hampers.

Gourmets at either end of the social spectrum might want to buy 500 shares in either posh London restaurateurs Chez Gerard or Harry Ramsden's, the chip shop chain, to get some handy discounts.

Ten companies have dropped out since last year, but there are 16 newcomers including BAA and PowerGen.

For a free copy of the survey, call 0800-1380456

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