pounds 120m bonanza for Kirkham's family

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The Independent Online
Sir Graham Kirkham, the Yorkshire entrepreneur who runs DFS Furniture, yesterday announced that his two children were to sell the bulk of their 22 per cent stake in the company, raising up to pounds 120m.

The sale comes a year after Sir Graham sold 74 million shares worth pounds 60m. Three years ago the ebullient Yorkshireman and his immediate family raised pounds 130m when DFS was floated on the stock market.

Sir Graham said his two children, Michael and Julie, were selling the shares to spread their portfolio of investments. "My children's shareholding in DFS represents the vast majority of their personal assets. Given they have no involvement at all in the running of the company and are married with children of their own, they consider a broader investment portfolio more appropriate to their individual needs and circumstances."

Sir Graham said his children would retain "a meaningful stake" in the company. He added that he had no plans to sell his remaining 8 per cent holding.

Sir Graham gave the shares to his two children in the early 1980s. Michael Kirkham, 29, works for an overseas charity. Julie Cross, 30, recently gave birth to a second child.

Sir Graham said he was not disappointed with the decision. "I would say there is no better place for their money than in DFS. But they are both adults. If they feel it is right for them I would want to support them. I'm not disappointed at all."

He said no decision had been made on how the funds might be invested. He hinted that some might be invested in art, which would appeal to Sir Graham, who splashed out on a Gainsborough painting ahead of the company's flotation. He said the family had no investments in property "which some might see as a gap".

The planned share sale was made alongside an impressive set of figures for last year which showed DFS profits increased by 19 per cent to pounds 31m.

Investment Column, page 24

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