Peacock prices float at 163p a share

PEACOCK GROUP, the discount clothes retailer, priced its institutional and retail offering at 163p a share yesterday, towards the top end of the 140p to 170p range it outlined earlier this month.

Richard Kirk, chief executive, said he was confident that the float of the 117-year-old group would be well received when trading started on 2 December.

"That's where the demand has been. That's the price the institutions have indicated," Mr Kirk said. "I am pleased about the way it has gone. What, with all the bad news around, I am glad that we have got it away."

The pricing values the company at pounds 155m and puts the shares on a forward earnings multiple of about 17 times, compared with 43 at Matalan, one of its larger rivals.

Peacock is the first retail group to float this year and its debut comes at a time when many traditional high street groups are struggling to maintain sales.

The 66 million share sale will yield Peacock a net pounds 42m, which it will use to expand its 274-strong chain by about 40 stores a year. Cinven, the venture-capital group that backed a pounds 78m management buyout of Peacock in 1997, is selling its entire 51 per cent holding.

Institutions took 80 per cent of the shares on offer, retail investors were allocated 17 per cent and Peacock employees received the balance.

The offer period was extended by two days to allow Peacock to register more retail investors.