Stuart Rose firm bids for collapsed D2 jeans stores

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The Independent Online

Blue Inc, the young fashion chain backed by Sir Stuart Rose, is poised to buy 21 stores of the jeans retailer D2 out of administration, which could save about 200 high street jobs.

The menswear retailer could seal the deal with D2's administrator, BDO, as early as today, bringing its store count to 191.

Blue Inc, formerly Mr Byrite, previously acquired 46 Officers Club shops out of administration in March. Sir Stuart, the former chairman of Marks & Spencer, joined the billionaire brothers Simon and David Reuben in investing in Blue Inc last year.

It is understood that the 21 D2 stores, that will be rebranded Blue Inc, are all profitable but both parties declined to comment.

D2, which was originally owned by the Scottish billionaire Sir Tom Hunter, collapsed into administration days after Christmas for the second time in two years. BDO promptly shut 19 of D2's 47 stores and started a search for a buyer for the remaining 28 shops.

Blue Inc's expected store purchase is a fillip for the high street that has seen retailers, including La Senza, Past Times and Hawkin's Bazaar, enlist the help of administrators over Christmas.

There are no such concerns for Blue Inc, which is thought to be considering a flotation later this year. The chain has grown rapidly since Steven Cohen, its chief executive, led the acquisition of the former Mr Byrite business in 2006 via the holding company he founded, Marlow Retail. Blue Inc is believed to have posted a 38 per cent rise in its underlying profits to about £4m for the year to 31 December, on sales up sharply to more than £75m. Mr Byrite was only breaking even, on sales of about £15m in 2006.

Sir Stuart, who retired as the M&S chairman in January 2011, has also invested in The Hut Group. His stake in Blue Inc is thought to be less than the £2m invested by the Reuben brothers, who have a personal fortune of £6.18bn.