French Connection takeover: Shares rocket 66 per cent after statement | Opinion: David Lonsdale

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Business Bulletin

French Connection has been targeted with two takeover approaches from investment specialists looking at snapping up the troubled retailer.

The fashion brand told investors it received early proposals over deals after its shares surged by about 40% on Thursday amid market speculation.

Shares rose by 66% to 26p on Friday after the business made a statement about the approaches.

The company, which is valued at just over £15 million, said it received one approach from retail investor Spotlight Brands, with backing from restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers.

Spotlight has backed British brands including fitness-focused Sweaty Betty, while Gordon Brothers acquired the Laura Ashley brand last year following its administration.

French Connection said it has also received another potential proposal from brand investment platform Go Global Retail.

 American dining giant to bring new brand to Glasgow

It said that discussions with both Spotlight and Go Global “remain at a very early stage”.

“Accordingly, there can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made,” the retailer said in a statement.

The fashion brand was founded by Stephen Marks in 1972 but has seen sales impacted by the turmoil on the high street in recent years, with the coronavirus pandemic adding to its woes.

In December, French Connection said it had seen “encouraging” sales after some stores were able to reopen, before the latest national lockdown came into force in January.

The takeover approaches come more than a year after French Connection called off plans to find a buyer following a year-long search.

A sale could also secure a payout for Mike Ashley, whose Frasers Group retail business owns an almost-25% stake in French Connection.

The refurbished office building.

Revamped office expected to attract ‘high-calibre’ occupiers

An office building in central Glasgow featuring a basement gym and electric car-charging stations has been launched to the market, following a major refurbishment.

Shelborn Asset Management purchased the building in 2019 and has appointed CBRE and Ryden as letting agents. Framework – at 124 St Vincent Street, provides 36,460 sq ft of contemporary office space over seven levels.

David Lonsdale of the Scottish Retail Consortium.

Opinion: Retail crisis is harbinger of wider challenges

Last week’s Scottish Budget was strikingly different from previous years. With Covid restrictions dominating day to day life and the unprecedented hit to the economy it’s hardly a surprise there was less build up and politicking ahead of the statement.

It was also predictable there would be eye-catching giveaways – there is of course (probably) an election in May.

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