Benson Shoe to buy Oliver Group for £6.1m

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The Independent Online

Benson Shoe said yesterday it had agreed to pay £6.1m in cash for Oliver Group and revealed plans to rebrand the struggling group's shoe shops and take them downmarket.

Benson Shoe said yesterday it had agreed to pay £6.1m in cash for Oliver Group and revealed plans to rebrand the struggling group's shoe shops and take them downmarket.

The deal is worth 12p a share and Benson said it would make the company the UK's third-largest shoe retailer by turnover, adding Oliver's 270 shops and the Timpsons brand to its 180 stores.

Benson, which is privately owned and trades under the names Discount Shoe Zone and Tylers Express, said it would finance the deal using a loan facility from the Bank of Scotland.

Oliver was in two failed merger bids last year with a buyer thought to be Stead & Simpson. The new offer already has 60 per cent support from shareholders.

Oliver also reported a £2.5m pre-tax loss in the six months to 29 July, compared with a restated £1.9m loss last year. An exceptional write-down of assets brought its first-half loss before tax to £10.9m.

Benson's chairman Michael Smith, who runs the business with his two sons, said yesterday: "Oliver Group approached us some months ago to see whether we might be interested in buying some of their shops. We said, how about us buying the lot?"

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