The Sunday Telegraph said that Angus Monro, the former chief executive of both Matalan and Instore, was looking to rescue a struggling retailer with sales in excess of £1 billion. The newspaper said that Monro was interested in buying Mosaic Fashions from Baugur. Monro is believed to have garnered the support of private equity firm Permira and is courting other private equity houses. Monro told the newspaper, "A lot of privately-owned retailers are breaking some of their soft covenants at the moment. By the end of the year they will break harder covenants and the banks will be in the driving seat." He added: "I am looking at retail companies with scale or a reasonable brand - public or private."
The Sunday Times reported that Marks & Spencers' share buyback programme had been criticised as "misguided and mistimed". The newspaper said that it raised fresh questions about the retailer's corporate governance in the run-up to its annual meeting next month. The chain raised £550m in bonds last December to fund the programme. Since then it has spent £600m in share buybacks as the share price continues to fall. Last Thursday M&S bought two million further shares at 343p - the day before the company went into its closed period. On Friday the shares closed at 339p. The Sunday Times reported that Nigel Sedgley of Collins Stewart's Quest research team said buyback strategies like this were harming shareholders. "There is evidence that buying back shares when the share price is falling, or where profitability is under pressure, simply destroys value for continuing shareholders."
The Independent on Saturday said that credit insurers had scaled back the cover given to suppliers of Blacks Leisure. The newspaper said that Euler Hermes and Atradius had trimmed back insurance cover for the retailer. A Blacks Leisure spokesman told the newspaper, "A number of credit insurers are choosing to reduce their cover for a cross-section of suppliers to UK retail businesses, but this clearly reflects a wider market perspective. Blacks remains in sound financial health, with a £40m bank facility in place and an average net debt position of only £19m. We're very comfortable with our debt facilities and cash position."