Luminar debut puts Railtrack in shade

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The Independent Online
While Railtrack took the limelight yesterday, cafe and disco operator Luminar put the far larger company in the shade, moving quietly to a 28 per cent premium to its 200p placing price. The stunning performance of the shares, which had been priced in line with Luminar's sector, took management and advisers alike by surprise.

The surge in Luminar's share price on its first day of dealings confirmed the strength of the new issues market. Other new flotations to have made big profits for investors on day one have included Vanguard Medica and Harvey Nichols.

Luminar owns, develops and operates theme bars, restaurants and discotheques in central, eastern and southern England. It has no presence in London, concentrating on provincial towns where it has less competition from other entertainment facilities.

In the year to February profit before tax and exceptional items increased from pounds 2.2m to pounds 2.9m, struck from sales of pounds 21.5m. An exceptional charge of pounds 1.54m was levied to cover a permanent diminution in the value of three of Luminar's older disco properties following a revaluation by the directors. Two years ago the company made pounds 1.4m from sales of pounds 14m.

Luminar said it would use the pounds 10m proceeds from the flotation to pay off pounds 5m of debt and fund a substantial opening programme elsewhere in the country. The focus is likely to be on the Chicago Rock Cafes rather than the company's core chain of 18 discos.

Luminar was established to acquire medium-sized discos where its financial controls could be used to boost profits. In 1990 the company set up its Chicago Rock Cafe division.

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