Jigsaw’s founder and controlling shareholder John Robinson has hired KPMG to explore options for the retailer’s future, which could include a sale.
KPMG is also exploring interest in acquiring a minority stake in the business.
The process has been underway for a couple of weeks and is ongoing. Drapers understands there has been interest from a number of potential investors.
It comes after Jigsaw announced in July that its sales rose 8% to £94.7m for the year to 1 October 2016, fuelled in part by an 18% rise in online sales in the UK. Adjusted EBITDA was up 5.6% year on year to £5.7m.
The company revealed it had shared out £493,000 to staff, as part of a stock incentive plan introduced by CEO Peter Ruis shortly after he joined the company from John Lewis in 2013.
The retailer also revealed plans in June to open a new store in King’s Cross, and made headlines in October thanks to its campaign championing immigration. When Ruis joined Jigsaw, he vowed to do “something different” and “get the personality” back into its shops.
John Stevenson, analyst at Peel Hunt, said he thought there would likely be a lot of interest in Jigsaw. “It’s a good business – it’s got it’s own position in the market, it has personality, and it has returned to growth of late. It’s doing a decent job in a tough market. Its latest set of results were decent, showing revenue and profit growth.”
The CEO of one of Jigsaw’s high street womenswear contemporaries agreed: “It’s a good brand, so I would have thought there would be interest from buyers. There are a number of retailers in that space that are or have been for sale, such as Hobbs, Warehouse and Oasis – in fact, there aren’t many that haven’t been – so this isn’t a great surprise.”
Icelandic bank Kaupthing, the owner of Oasis, Warehouse and Coast, called off a planned sale of the high street womenswear chains in October, after concluding that the market did not “currently recognise the value we see in the businesses”.
One industry observer said it was unlikely Robinson was motivated by macro conditions, such as the tough trading environment for high street retailers, and instead had been “looking to offload it for some time”. Robinson founded Jigsaw in 1971.
“He’s not involved in the day-to-day running of the business,” the observer added. “I think he [Robinson] has been considering a sale for some time.”