Stylo down at heel after festive slump

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The Independent Online

Stylo, the shoe retailer that owns the high street favourite Shellys, blamed poor Christmas trading yesterday for a profit warning that knocked 4 per cent off its share price.

The warning came as it emerged that Jack Petchey, the septuagenarian property mogul, had acquired a 5 per cent stake in the group via his investment vehicle Trefick.

The company, which also owns the Barratts and Priceless chains, said "weak trading" in the run-up to Christmas meant it would report an operating loss during the second half of its year. It will also take a non-cash charge related to its pension fund deficit. The City expects the group to rack up losses for its full year of up to £6m. However, these will be largely offset by gains from property disposals.

Analysts said Stylo's large discount to its net asset value had attracted the interest of Mr Petchey, who recently mounted a hostile takeover bid for the hotel group Hanover International. Trefick paid 40p for 2.2 million shares in Stylo last Friday, increasing its interest in the company to 5.24 per cent.

Shares in Stylo, which has a dual voting structure and is controlled by the Ziff family, fell 1.5p to 38p.

The Bradford-based company said trading at Barratts, which suffers from its downmarket image, had continued to disappoint since a lack of summer shoes held back its first-half performance.

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