Limelight shares in slump

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The Independent Online
Shares in the Moben kitchens to Dolphin bathrooms group Limelight crashed 35p to 107.5p yesterday only months after the group came to the market at 175p, netting pounds 60m for the company's founder, Stephen Boler, writes Tom Stevenson.

The meltdown in the company's share price so soon after flotation is a serious embarrassment for its blue-chip advisers, the sponsor NM Rothschild and the broker Cazenove.

The collapse in the share price followed confirmation by the company that trading in the first 12 weeks of the year had been difficult.

Limelight said total group sales were 11 per cent less than the same period a year ago, with its kitchen division the worst affected. Sales in kitchens were down 24 per cent on last year, the company said.

Limelight sells established brand-name products that include Moben, Kitchens Direct, Sharps, Dolphin and Portland.

"Moben is suffering from weak demand and sales are down 32 per cent, which compares to a 74 per cent rise in the same period a year ago," the company said.

Limelight was valued at pounds 175m by a placing and intermediaries offer last November which raised pounds 113.8m. The money went to existing shareholders, who were selling or cutting their stakes, rather than to the company itself.

Mr Boler, who is also a large shareholder at Manchester City football club, reduced his stake from just under 50 per cent to 17 per cent, raising pounds 60m from the flotation.