Racing Green sold for pounds 19m

Retail entrepreneur David Krantz netted his second high street fortune yesterday when he sold the Racing Green mail order and stores group to Burton for pounds 19m.

Mr Krantz, 43, also founded the Blazer menswear chain in the early 1980s before selling it to Storehouse for pounds 5m in 1987. It was acquired by Moss Bros in June.

A former travelling salesman who used to sell menswear from a suitcase, Mr Krantz said he preferred the formative stages of a business to running a larger concern.

"I've got other things I want to do, though I might have a little holiday first," he said. His next venture could include a restaurant and something involving organic food. "It certainly won't be in clothing."

Mr Krantz founded Racing Green in 1991 after noticing the success of mail order companies such as Lands' End in the US. Racing Green started as a mail order concern specialising in upmarket casual clothing. "I'd seen the growth of specialogues in America in the 1980s and I thought it would be the right thing to do here in the 1990s," Mr Krantz said.

Though two-thirds of its sales still come from its catalogues, the group now has five high street stores, including a flagship site on London's Regent Street. It achieved sales of pounds 18m last year though it only broke even.

Burton said the deal complemented the pounds 45m acquisition of the Innovations mail order group in August.

"We see home shopping as a growth sector; a coming thing," said Burton's finance director, Andrew Higginson. He said the purchase of Innovations had given Burton access to database management and marketing skills required in mail order.

The acquisition of Racing Green was more about the brand. "We think it's got a lot of potential," Mr Higginson said. Burton plans to build the mail order business and add more stores. It is possible that the company will open Racing Green outlets within its Debenhams stores.

Burton said in the summer that it hoped to introduce catalogue versions of its main brands such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Principles to the UK over the next two years.

Burton is paying pounds 15m in cash with the remaining pounds 4m being funded by the issue of 2.7 million new Burton shares. An additional pounds 1m may be payable if Racing Green meets performance targets for the year ending December 1996.

Mr Krantz will remain with Racing Green for three months to ensure a smooth management hand-over. He will then be retained as a consultant.

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