Coast may be spun off as Aurora ponders sale

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The Independent Online

Aurora Fashions is considering spinning off its Coast brand as an independent company to improve its long-term prospects of selling the womenswear chain.

The plan comes after the group, which also owns the retailers Warehouse and Oasis, separated its Karen Millen brand as an independent entity in 2011.

Although Aurora has no imminent plans to start a sale process for either Coast or Karen Millen, its continued devolvement of the brands will help the group to sell them in the future.

Coast, which sells occasionwear popular at weddings, has 41 standalone stores and 166 concessions in the UK, as well as 109 shops overseas from Australia to the Middle East. Management at Coast were unavailable for comment yesterday.

There is also speculation that Mike Shearwood, the chief executive of Aurora, is considering a management buy-out of Karen Millen although sources suggested this is unlikely to happen until next year.

Aurora is majority-owned by the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing. The group emerged out of administration under its previous guise as Mosaic Fashions in March 2009.

Aurora's profits fell by 15.3 per cent to £12.7m over the year to last February, following an underperformance of its womenswear brand Bastyan.

Last month, the group said that Meg Lustman, the managing director of Warehouse, was stepping down although she could remain on its board for a while longer.