Outlook: Allied Carpets

A FULL-BLOWN carpet auction finally seems in prospect. Allied Carpets, the loss-making retail struggler, has bidders queueing at its door. Three would-be buyers have so far declared their hand and, if the company's propaganda machine is to be believed, there are more waiting in the wings.

Geoff Brady, the new chief executive, talks a good game about maintaining the company's independence and implementing his turnaround strategy, but his chances are looking slimmer by the day. The latest tank to be parked on his lawn, the French group Tapis, looks powerful enough to blow everyone else clean out of the grounds. Poundstretcher's skinflint offer is now looking as cheap as its products. Its South African masters are unlikely to want to stretch their pounds much further.

If Mr Brady does have the rug pulled from under him, it will be one of the shortest stays in the job since Stuart Rose's gloriously lucrative eight-week reign at Argos. In the hot seat for just seven weeks and already Mr Brady is looking up the number of the local Job Centre.

But worry not, for his fall will be more cushioned than any foam-backed carpet could offer. With his 18-month contract and share options by the barrow load, he stands to make even more money for even less work than Mr Rose trousered for defending Argos last year.

Just like Mr Rose, who secured an excellent deal for his shareholders, it looks as if he won't have the bother of implementing the strategy he so bullishly extols. So no one will ever know if he might have been worth the money.

u

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