New Look valued at pounds 300m ahead of stock market flotation in June

TOM SINGH is set to become one of Britain's richest shopkeepers in June when he floats his New Look fashion chain on the stock market with a value of pounds 300m.

Mr Singh, who founded the business in Worthing in 1969, owns 29 per cent of the company. This will rise to 33 per cent following the float, valuing his stake at pounds 100m.

This is on top of the pounds 170m he and his family received three years ago when he sold a controlling stake to a group of venture capitalists including Barclays Private Equity and PPM Ventures.

It will be the second time New Look has tried for a stock market flotation. It abandoned its first attempt in 1994 due to volatile stock market conditions. Since then, it has considered a reverse takeover of Etam and also looked at Oasis Stores last year after it issued two profits warnings.

New Look is raising pounds 100m from the float. Half will be used to pay down debt and to redeem preference shares. The rest will be used to fund store expansion.

New Look has 440 stores but it wants to add a further 150, of which 50 will be in towns and cities such as Kingston-upon-Thames and Edinburgh where the company is notrepresented.

Jim Hodkinson, the former head of B&Q, has been confirmed as chief executive. Gavin Aldred, the former joint managing director is stepping down from the main board though he will remain with the company.

New Look recorded profits of pounds 33m on sales of pounds 242m last year.

Boardroom pay will be adjusted on flotation. Last year, Mr Singh earned pounds 707,000 including pounds 187,000 salary and pounds 480,000 of bonuses. Mr Aldred was paid pounds 543,000 including bonuses of pounds 350,000. On flotation, bonuses will be limited to no more than 50 per cent of salary.

Investment column, page 22

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