Celebrity jeweller in talks with new investors

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Theo Fennell, the jeweller to celebrities such as Sir Elton John and Naomi Campbell, revealed yesterday that it is in talks with several possible investors for a cash injection that would fund overseas expansion.

The AIM-listed company also reported that it had enjoyed a strong Christmas, with like-for-like sales up 33 per cent for the 1 to 24 December period. For the nine months to the end of December, underlying sales were 15 per cent ahead.

In November, Theo Fennell announced that it was in talks with an unnamed investor. Yesterday, it said that a number of other interested parties had come forward. The company is in negotiations with multiple entities and so "no longer in exclusive talks with any single party".

It is thought that talks with the later potential investors are at an early stage. The parties behind the approaches had been waiting to see the Christmas trading figures before taking the negotiations further.

Theo Fennell has gone overseas through franchises and outlets within stores and hotels, including sites in Dubai and Hong Kong. New funds would enable it to create a flagship shop in the US and accelerate the rate of overseas expansion.

The new money would dilute the 70 per cent stake held by directors, led by Viscount Cowdray (of the Pearson publishing family) and chairman Richard Northcott. The company was started on London's Fulham Road, where it still has its flagship store, in 1982 by Theo Fennell, who had begun his career as a silversmith at Edward Barnard.