AllSaints set to receive fresh investment to move forward

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The Independent Online

AllSaints is poised to unveil fresh investment in the business as early as today, which would help the fashion retailer to push ahead with its expansion and put an end to speculation surrounding its future.

The chain set a deadline to buy a stake in the company of last Friday and was considering four offers over the weekend. It is believed that two of the bids are from the US investment specialists Goode Partners and Och Ziff, which already owns a 25 per cent stake in the UK discount retailer Peacocks.

It is thought that AllSaints, whose stores are fitted out with 10,000 vintage Singer sewing machines, wants to raise as much as £50m.

The accountancy firm Ernst & Young was hired to find buyers for stakes in AllSaints after the collapsed Icelandic banks Kaupthing and Glitnir decided to sell their shareholdings in the retailer. Lloyds Banking Group provides AllSaints with its working capital facility.

Stephen Craig, the chief executive of AllSaints, said yesterday: "Lloyds remains supportive and we are confident that the chain's best days are ahead of it," but declined to comment on the sale process. Nevertheless, his comments will be interpreted as a positive sign and an attempt to nip in the bud speculation about the retailer, following reports earlier this month that AllSaints had a pressing need for fresh capital to safeguard its future.

While it is possible that AllSaints could reveal its fresh investment today after a board meeting, an announcement is likely later in the week.

AllSaints is majority-owned by Kevin Stanford, the entrepreneur who co-founded Karen Millen. Founded in 1994, AllSaints has 63 stores and 47 concessions in the UK, Europe and in the US.

It now has 10 stores in the US, including in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

For the year to 31 January 2010, AllSaints more than doubled pre-tax profits to £10.7m, on sales up 46 per cent to £132.9m. Its earning before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation rose by 90 per cent to £23.6m over the period.