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Buyers eye Musto as business is reviewed

Private equity bidders are circling sailing, shooting and equestrian clothing retailer Musto, after it kicked off a strategic review of the business ahead of a potential sale.

Chief executive Nigel Musto said he was looking at several options, one of which could involve "new shareholders" for the 11-store business, which operates both wholesale and retail businesses. It has 280 UK stockists and a further 20 worldwide.

"We would not rule out the possibility of selling some of the shareholding if we found a partner who we felt had the right solution. If we needed to make a move in that direction, we would consider it," said Musto.

The family-owned group, which supplies sailing gear to Ellen MacArthur, was set up by Keith Musto in 1971. He is now retired but holds a majority stake in the company.

Corporate advisor NM Rothschild has been brought on board to handle the strategic review.

Drapers has learned that several private equity buyers are looking at the business, which is understood to be valued at about £50 million.

Nigel Musto said: "We are looking at where we can go next, whether it's continuing with our strong technical line of clothing or getting more into lifestyle or footwear."

The company is planning to open two more shops later this year.

Musto forecast that its sales would reach £27m this year. It posted pre-tax profits of £3.5m against a turnover of £25m for the year to December 31 2006.

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