Kirkham son buys back into DFS

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The Independent Online
THE SON of Sir Graham Kirkham, the founder and chief executive of DFS Furniture group, yesterday bought back pounds 10m shares in the company at a fraction of the price at which the family sold most of its stake two years ago.

Michael Kirkham, who works for a charity in Ireland, acquired 5 million shares in DFS, taking his total shareholding to 6 per cent. Though the price of the transaction was not disclosed, DFS shares closed 1.5p lower at 197.5p yesterday. This compares to the 553p a share price at which he and his sister sold most of their stake in October 1996.

The reason given for that sale was that the Kirkham children had too much of the net worth tied up in DFS shares given to them by their father. However, Sir Graham then seemed to feel they should have hung on to them. "I would say that there is no better place for their money than DFS," he said.

Since then the shares have plunged following two profits warnings as the company has struggled against higher interest rates and weakening consumer demand.

No reason was given for the change of heart by Sir Graham's son yesterday, although a company spokesman indicated it came because the shares had fallen so far as to become good value. "The shares are now below the issue price when the company was floated in 1994 and the company feels the current sales position is a blip rather than a trend."