Alexon trumpets £20m cash call for growth

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The Independent Online

The ailing fashion group Alexon has unveiled a £20m cash call to accelerate its growth plans, although it plans to close 42 loss-making stores over the next three years.

Alexon, whose brands include Ann Harvey, Dash, Eastex and Kaliko, plans to raise £18.5m (net of expenses) in a firm placing and open offer at 20p a share, which represents a 41 per cent discount to the closing price yesterday.

Jane McNally, the chief executive of Alexon, which operates standalone stores and concessions, said: “It is fantastic news for the company. Not only does it secure the financial future of the company but it also allows us to accelerate the turnaround plan.”

Alexon has also secured new banking facilities with Barclays, including a £8m revolving credit facility that expires in March 2013.

Ms McNally, who joined Alexon from Peacocks 18 months ago, said it had identified 63 onerous leases out of 108, adding that the reshaping of its property portfolio, including lease terminations and reduced rents, would result in annualised cost savings of £5.2m.

“The company’s financial platform has very seriously been affected by the onerous leases,” she said.

Of the £18m fund raising, Alexon said £10m would be spent on reorganising its store estate and the remainder would be invested in its outdated IT systems. Ms McNally said that “no more than nine” stores would close in the next year. Of the 42 that will close, 15 are currently unoccupied.

She said that Alexon planned to open up to 25 stores over the next 12 months and as many as 50 new concessions.