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Baugur bosses defiant at Westfield London launch

The directors of Baugur were out in force and in defiant mood last night to celebrate the opening of the new House of Fraser store in Westfield London.

Baugur chairman Jon Asgeir Johannesson and Baugur chief executive Gunnar Sigurdsson both attended the House of Fraser launch party - one of their first public appearances since the collapse of the Icelandic banking system earlier this month.

Johannesson and Sigurdsson joined House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy at the launch of one of the most impressive stores within the Westfield London centre.

Speaking exclusively to Drapers at the event, Sigurdsson said that Baugur was waiting to see what happened with the Icelandic economy before a solution for the Baugur crisis could be found.

However Sigurdsson added: “This can’t go on for months and months.”

“We have 20 businesses. Some are in better shape than others but we are looking strong towards Christmas.”

See below for pictures of the House of Fraser store at Westfield London.

Readers' comments (2)

  • I wonder if these Icelanders have read Nicholas Naseem Taleb ''Fooled by Randomness'' ? Though it concentrates on investing, the message applies to all things. I reckon they should take a few hours out and read it.

    Then look up Hubris in the dictionary.

    And how are their fellow countrymen feeling right now?

    And are they flying Easyjet and staying in a Travelodge during their foreign jaunts?

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  • The FT today have a good article on this.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/82477820-a785-11dd-865e-000077b07658.html

    QUOTE; Back at their London base, the Baugur duo now say they can survive the turmoil, service £1bn of debt and even help Iceland solve its economic emergency.

    But the prospects of future refinancing or working capital to buy new stock in portfolio companies such as Karen Millen and Coast are low.UNQUOTE

    Also
    QUOTE; But now its only hope is that the government decides it would be worse to liquidate assets at vastly depressed valuations than keep the group in business.

    “The Icelandic nation doesn’t need a fire sale of good assets for the time being,” says Mr Jóhannesson. “Trying to sell retail assets at this time five minutes to Christmas is like trying to sell a Christmas tree in July, it’s impossible.”

    Mr Jóhannesson is now positioning himself as the country’s potential saviour. If Iceland holds on to Baugur’s debt and even offers working capital to help buy new stock, the UK stores could act as a conduit of foreign currency to help pay off an IMF loan.

    “We won’t talk our way back,” says Mr Jóhannesson. “We just have to do good. And earn our respect back.” Nevertheless, Baugur’s survival in its present form depends on several unlikely developments – not least that shoppers in London keep spending. UNQUOTE

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