Strategic review could lead to Jane Norman sale

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The Independent Online

The womenswear retailer Jane Norman has appointed a corporate advisory firm to conduct a strategic review that could lead to a sale of the chain.

Jane Norman hired Hawkpoint a few weeks ago after its ownership structure changed following the collapse of Baugur, the retail investment group that previously controlled large swathes of the UK high street. Kaupthing, the troubled Icelandic bank, had a pledge over Baugur's near-40 per cent stake in Jane Norman, and now owns about 70 per cent of the retailer.

Jane Norman, which has more than 200 stores in the UK and overseas, has been buffeted by the collapse of Baugur in February, tough trading on the high street and the scaling back of credit insurance cover for its suppliers. At the end of March, Sandy Goldsborough, the trading director at Jane Norman, left after just six months in the role.

But sources said that Jane Norman continued to pay suppliers promptly and is not in danger of becoming the recession's latest retail casualty.

It is unclear if the strategic review being carried out by Hawkpoint will lead to a sale. But sources said that investment companies had already been sounded out to gauge their interest in Jane Norman, although a sales memorandum has not yet been sent out.

Jane Norman also appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers last week to carry out a review of its cost base and operations, in an effort to identify efficiencies. PwC and Hawkpoint have separate briefs. Jane Norman, PwC and Hawkpoint declined to comment.