Fat Face gets new look as Sunnucks joins board

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The Independent Online

Fat Face, the ski and surf clothes retailer, has bolstered its board before a possible flotation with the appointment of Stephen Sunnucks, the former chief executive of New Look.

Fat Face, the ski and surf clothes retailer, has bolstered its board before a possible flotation with the appointment of Stephen Sunnucks, the former chief executive of New Look.

Mr Sunnucks, who banked more than £7m when New Look was acquired by Permira earlier this year, has joined Fat Face as a non-executive director. He is likely to be awarded a stake in the privately owned group as part of his remuneration package. He said: "Fat Face has a great future ahead of it. It is a strong business and has the foundations in place to become a significant retailer in the future."

Fat Face, which yesterday announced a strong jump in annual profits, is planning to almost double its 83-strong UK store estate over the next few years. Last month it opened its first outlet in Ireland, and it also has four shops in the French Alps.

Louise Barnes, the chief executive, said Mr Sunnucks' appointment would help to take the business to the "next stage". She said: "He did a similar thing with New Look, taking it from a smaller company to a much bigger one."

Fat Face reported a 41 per cent rise in operating profits before goodwill, climbing to £4.2m on sales up 48 per cent at £45m. Its profit after tax for the year to end-May rose 59 per cent to £2.4m.

Ms Barnes, who lives the Fat Face lifestyle, having just returned from a sailing trip round Hayling Island in Hampshire, said the company had decided not to report like- for-like sales this year. She denied the move was intended to mask a poor summer's trading, adding: "Our business is about growth, not about growing sales from a mature estate. We hit our budgets for June and July."

Fat Face was started in 1988 from a flat in Meribel, France, by two friends, Tim Slade and Jules Leaver, who were keen to finance an extended skiing trip. It opened its first shop in London's Fulham Road five years ago, and since then has gained a reputation as the Sloane Ranger's sweatshirt-maker of choice. Isis, the fund manager, owns a 41 per cent stake in it.

"It's 2004 and Isis bought into us in 2000 so I'm sure their clock is ticking. A flotation is something we're thinking about," Ms Barnes said. The company has yet to appoint any financial advisers to weigh up the possible benefit of an initial public offering versus a secondary buyout, she added.

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