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Kinnaird circles Envy and Ravel in acquisition drive

Retail entrepreneur John Kinnaird is in talks with Alexon Group and Clarks about buying young fashion chain Envy and resurrecting the Ravel brand name.

Kinnaird, who bought Dolcis from Alexon for less than £3 million in December last year, is circling Envy, which was put up for sale by parent company Alexon last month.

It has also emerged that he is in talks to buy the Ravel brand, along with up to six of the chain's stores.

Bidders for Envy have until next Friday to make their offers to corporate advisor Hawkpoint, which is handling the sale.

The 56-store menswear chain is understood to have a price tag of about £15 million, which would also include its menswear brands Tom Wolfe and Parkes.

A City source told Drapers Envy's price tag was likely to fall over time. "Alexon is quite bad at pricing out potential buyers and punching above its weight in terms of asking price," said the source. "Look at Dolcis - it sold for just £3m."

Dolcis has concessions within Envy, which are understood to cost Kinnaird about £1m annually and generate a £6m return, according to sources close to the business. Providing he could slash Envy's price tag to a mooted £5m, the purchase would cover his outgoings for the space in about five years. Kinnaird said: "We would pay £5m for it and it is certainly of interest."

Alexon was not available for comment.

Envy was acquired in 1999 from Style Holdings and has underperformed for several years, but sales stabilised last year. Despite this, Alexon will not make back the £30 million it paid for the business, according to City sources.

Kinnaird also said he was in talks with Clarks over buying some Ravel stores and the brand name, which he would use in Dolcis. "I've got some discussions on the table. I'm talking to Clarks about buying Ravel if the deal is right - we'd have an in-house brand called Ravel," he said.

Ravel was merged with the Clarks business last month following years of tough trading (Drapers, May 12). Clarks planned to retain stores where there was no overlap, converting them to the Clarks fascia.

It is understood that there are 30 stores on the disposal list.

According to company sources, Clarks was initially planning to retain the rights to the Ravel brand. Clarks would not comment on Kinnaird's plan or whether the Ravel name was for sale.

The director of one footwear retailer said Clarks would "be mad" to sell the name due to its heritage.

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