Wednesday 23 April 2014

Rose replaces Rose at Blue Inc ahead of IPO

Here's an interesting tale about one of Britain's oldest retailers.

I understand Sir Stuart Rose, the former chief executive of Marks & Spencer, has stepped down as chairman of "fast fashion" retailer Blue Inc ahead of a potential flotation of the 100-year old company.

Sir Stuart has been replaced by - wait it for it - Richard Rose, the chairman of online white goods retailer and cash and carry group Booker. I don't think the two Roses are related!

According to my sources, Blue Inc has also appointed Lord Leigh of Hurley, the Tory party treasurer and co-founder of Cavendish Corporate Finance, as a non-executive director alongside Richard Rose as part of a move to strengthen the company's board.

I understand Sir Stuart has stepped down from Blue Inc, formerly known as Mr Byrite, because he is the chairman of several other businesses, including FTSE 250-listed retailer Ocado.

My well-placed sources tell me that Blue Inc has mandated brokers from Cantor Fitzgerald to manage a Blue Inc flotation, which could launch in the next couple of months. It is, though, not clear what kind of valuation the company will achieve on flotation.

Blue Inc is run by Steven Cohen, who bought the business in 2006 from the Levy family. The Levy family founded the company in 1912.

Blue Inc has grown rapidly since Mr Cohen's consortium of investors acquired the company from the Levy family. It has expanded from 28 stores in 2006 to over 240 throughout the UK and currently employs more than 2000 people.

In part, this is because Blue Inc - which generated a turnover of £120m in 2013 - has bought several stores from rival retailers out of administration. For example, in 2011 Blue Inc bought 46 Officers Club stores in a deal thought to be worth about £5m.

The company's success also comes from Blue Inc's focus on selling fashionable clothes to young people who have disposable incomes and relatively low levels of debt.

Blue Inc joins a growing group of retail companies seeking public listings amid rising confidence among consumers.

Earlier today, it emerged Patisseries Valerie, the speciality cafe chain, is set to float on London's junior market. The float should value Patisserie Valerie's equity at around £170m.

Meanwhile, several other retailers have already carried out successful listings, such as Pets at Home and

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