Kenwood chief brought in to speed Clark plans

BY TOM STEVENSON

Deputy City Editor

C & J Clark, the Somerset-based shoemaker and retailer, took a step closer to its planned flotation yesterday when it appointed Tim Parker of Kenwood as chief executive. Kenwood's shares fell 10p to 250p on the announcement.

Mr Parker led Kenwood's management buyout from Thorn EMI in 1989 before grooming the company for flotation in 1992. His appointment is understood to be an acceleration of Clark's flotation plans, which have stalled since it said in early 1993 that it would come to the market within four years.

The promise was part of Clark's successful fight against takeover by Berisford, the property and commodities group that later bought the Magnet chain. Roger Pedder, chairman, said: "I am extremely glad to have Tim on board; he is a vigorous, capable and successful executive."

Kenwood's profits have grown sharply over the past four years from pounds 1.2m from sales of pounds 46m in 1992, to pounds 13.5m in the year to March this year struck from sales of pounds 142m. The performance of the shares since flotation has been less impressive - floated at 285p, they reached a peak of 383p at the beginning of 1994 but have spent most of this year below the flotation price.

Clark's flotation plans have been put on the back burner since Berisford was rebuffed because profits have hardly grown over the past five years. Having made pounds 17.7m in the year to January 1991, Clark made pounds 20.7m in 1994 but slipped back to pounds 19.6m this year.

The appointment is a significant development for the shoe company which owns K Shoes and Ravel.

The controlling family was split down the middle by Berisford's bid in 1993. Some 70 per cent of the shares are in family hands with the remainder divided between staff, family trusts and a few institutions.

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