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White Stuff’s sales boom as suitors prepare to bid

White Stuff’s like-for-like retail sales were up 20% for the first six weeks of the financial year, while private equity bidders are lining up to take a stake in the boardsports-inspired business.

Chief executive Sally Bailey said no deal had been struck with any bidder, but that a decision was due within the next month.
However, it is understood that private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners is the frontrunner to pick up a stake of between 10% and 20% from founders George Treves and Sean Thomas. The deal is estimated to be worth up to £80 million.

Treves and Thomas own 80% of the company, which also has a substantial mail order and wholesale business.

White Stuff will open its 50th store in Cambridge in August, and plans to have 75 stores in the UK within the next three years, as well as opening more stores overseas.

The sales increase for the beginning of this financial year followed a like-for-like sales rise of 7% for the year to April 26, with operating profits hitting £6.9m. Total sales rose 39% to £43.8m for the period.

White Stuff has about 120 wholesale accounts in the UK. Last week, Phoenix Equity Partners entered talks with footwear and womenswear retailer LK Bennett about buying the business. LK Bennett is expected to be sold for about £82m.

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