Owner sells Stanley Gibbons for pounds 13.5m

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The Independent Online
STANLEY GIBBONS, synonymous with stamp collecting around the world, changed hands yesterday when the company was sold for pounds 13.5m to Flying Flowers, the airborne florist, which is expanding its mail-order business.

The sale makes a multi-millionaire of Paul Fraser, a 42-year-old collector of music and autographs who bought Stanley Gibbons for an undisclosed sum in 1995.

Stanley Gibbons has a history going back 142 years and has become the best known retailer and auctioneer of philately products. Its store on the Strand in London is the world's largest stamp shop and it regularly holds auctions on the premises. Its catalogue is the bible of the stamp collecting world and its magazine has a circulation of 25,000.

Investment constraints mean it has struggled to build its business internationally. The business made profits of pounds 1.2m on turnover of pounds 9.4m. Its new owners said they would use their systems and database knowledge to expand the Stanley Gibbons operations.

Mr Fraser will work for Stanley Gibbons two days a week. He is not taking cash but accepting payment in Flying Flowers shares instead. Flying Flowers is allotting 2.6m shares at 516p to cover the deal. This will leave Mr Fraser with a stake of over 8 per cent in the enlarged Flying Flowers business.

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