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Phase Eight appoints advisers ahead of sale

The owner of womenswear retailer Phase Eight is understood to have appointed Rothschild to advise it on the sale of the business, which is expected to fetch £300m.

It is understood that US private equity firm TowerBrook, which owns 60% of Phase Eight after investing £80m in 2011, is to sell its stake later this year. The remaining 40% is said to be owned by the retailer’s management.

Phase Eight, which has been focusing on international expansion, has more than 400 stores including 98 outside the UK in locations such as Switzerland and Germany. It is also sold through department stores in the UK and is the biggest-selling womenswear brand in John Lewis.

The move follows reports in July that Phase Eight will expand into the US. Its first stores will open in Mexico in the next six months, followed by a shop in the US in early 2015. It expects to open about 300 international stores and concession over the next three to five years.

Annual sales at Phase Eight rose 15% to £141m in the 12 months to February 1, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation rising 16% to £24m.

Overseas sales comprise 11.5% of turnover, up from 3.7% the year before. Phase Eight expects this figure to exceed 20% by January 2015.

TowerBrook bought Phase Eight from the administrators of Icelandic bank Kaupthing and management.

All parties declined to comment.

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