Limelight set to float

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The Independent Online
Limelight Group, owner of some of the best-known names in fitted kitchens and bathrooms, is planning a pounds 180m stock market flotation that will net its founder and largest shareholder, Stephen Boler, pounds 54m and leave him with a holding worth around pounds 36m.

Limelight operates nationally through 555 showrooms trading under the Moben, Kitchens Direct, Dolphin and Portland names. Last year, the group made operating profits of pounds 13.5m from sales of pounds 134m, both of which were 12 per cent higher than in 1994.

Limelight plans to issue its pathfinder prospectus later this month and expects dealings in its shares to commence in mid-November.

Mr Boler, who currently owns 50 per cent of Limelight's shares, will reduce his holding to 20 per cent. He plans to stay with the company in a non-executive role. Andrew Thomas, executive chairman of Greenalls, as well as non-executive chairman of supermarket group Somerfield and a non-executive director of JJB Sports, was yesterday appointed non- executive chairman.

Limelight's other main shareholders include Schroder Ventures, which will reduce its holding from 27 per cent to about 10 per cent and ADT, the car auctions and security group, which holds 10 per cent and is expected to sell all of its stake.

Stephen Cotter, chief executive, said: "The planned flotation will provide an opportunity to invest in the leading national specialist retailer and manufacturer of fully fitted home improvement products. The pounds 5bn home improvement market remains highly fragmented and we see considerable opportunity for profitable growth through building on the strengths of our established brands."

Based mainly in the south of England, Limelight has grown from 183 showrooms at the end of 1993 to 555.