FootFall staff share £16m from sell-off

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Staff at a company set up a decade ago to analyse shopper numbers are to share a £16m windfall after the business was sold to Experian, the credit-checking business, it emerged yesterday.

Experian, the financial services arm of GUS, is paying £30m to £40m in cash for FootFall, whose data has become vital for economists in tracking the consumer slowdown.

FootFall will become part of Experian's Business Strategies unit, which provides data on European retail property, analysis and consulting. The move is the latest sign of GUS' move into financial information provision and away from its historic retail base. Last month GUS demerged its remaining stake in Burberry, the clothes retailer, and bought, an online comparison shopping website, for £273m. GUS, which is expected to split from Argos this year, spent more than £600m expanding Experian last year.

It emerged last July that FootFall, which uses high-tech devices to count the number of people entering shopping centres, had drawn up plans for a trade sale or flotation valuing the company at more than £30m.

The price range disclosed yesterday would deliver a windfall of £12m to £16m for the founders and staff, who own 40 per cent of the company. The two major beneficiaries will be the founders John Gallagher, now chief executive, and Brian Barnes, who has since left the business. "It's not bad for 11 years' hard work," Mr Gallagher said. He said 9 out of 10 of the 70-odd staff would benefit, but declined to give a more detailed breakdown.

The remaining 60 per cent of the company is owned by the venture capital firms Questor, New Media Spark, VCF and Matrix.