Specialeyes announces loan stock issue and 2m pounds loss

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SPECIALEYES, Britain's fourth-largest chain of retail opticians, yesterday announced a restructuring and refinancing, as it reported a loss of pounds 2.3m for the 18 months to 28 November.

A new management team, led by Jim Power, former finance director of Storehouse, has launched an issue of covertible loan stock to raise pounds 1.4m net.

The stock, which has been pre- placed with institutions by Greig Middleton, the broker, pays 10 per cent interest annually and can be converted into 10 ordinary shares per 100p between 1994 and 1999. The maturity date is 31 May 2000.

Mr Power said a rights issue was rejected because of the difficulty of finding underwriters, considering the USM-quoted group's losses and its inability to pay dividends.

Yesterday's results were delayed while the new management completed negotiations over the refinancing. The money raised clears bank borrowings. Mr Power said it would also fund some modest investment in the business, including the updating of shop-fronts and the installation of computers in-store to allow better stock control and supply.

The losses included exceptional reorganisation charges of pounds 904,000, but Mr Power said trading had improved, with like-for-like sales 13 per cent higher in the first half.

He said that the former management of Specialeyes perhaps lacked the retail experience and financial discipline to follow through a very good concept.

He added that the company had been advised that it stood a good chance of gaining a windfall of almost pounds 1m from a case being taken to a VAT tribunal. The shares rose 5p to 14p.