The shoe retailer Brantano (UK) Ltd has gone into administration. The company operates 140 stores and 60 concessions across the UK and employs around 2,000 staff, including 200 at its head office in Coalville, Leicestershire. Brantano was acquired by Alteri Investors in October 2015 but has experienced difficult trading conditions. The administrators say “Like many others, Brantano has been hit hard by the change in consumers’ shopping habits and the evolution of the UK retail environment” and that they are now assessing interest in the UK Brantano business as a whole or its parts and welcome approaches from interested parties.
The accountancy firm Mazars has merged with the Chinese audit firm ZhongShen ZhongHuan, a deal which creates a full-service firm operating in 77 countries. Mazars announced similar deals with firms in Germany, Australia, Mozambique and Cyprus in 2015.
Legal & General has sold Suffolk Life to Curtis Banks for £45m. The deal makes Curtis Banks the second largest independent full SIPP provider in the UK.
Home Retail Group has agreed to sell Homebase to the Australian retailer Wesfarmers for £340m. The acquisition gives Wesfarmers access to the UK’s £38bn home improvement and garden sector. There are more than 300 large, out-of-town Homebase stores throughout the UK and Ireland.
Tata Steel UK is to cut 1,050 jobs – 750 at its Port Talbot-based Strip Products business, 200 in support functions and a further 100 at steel mills in Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool. Tata says that the job cuts are part of a cost saving initiative designed to improve the competitiveness of its UK business following continued falls in the European steel price caused by a flood of cheap imports, particularly from China. Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “We need the European Commission to accelerate its response to unfairly traded imports and increase the robustness of its actions. Not doing so threatens the future of the entire European steel industry. And while we welcome progress on UK energy costs, the Government must take urgent action to increase the competitiveness of the UK for its vital steel sector. This includes lowering business rates and supporting energy efficiency and anti-dumping cases so we can compete fairly”.
The housebuilder and urban regeneration business Countryside Properties has announced plans to float on the London Stock Exchange. The company operates under the Countryside and Millgate brands, primarily around London and the South East, and has a target of over 1,200 housing completions a year up to 2018. Countryside hopes the share sale will raise £114m, of which £64m will go towards reducing the group’s debt, with £50m earmarked for the development of Countryside’s sites at Acton, Beaulieu, Hazel End and Rayleigh.
Hargreaves Services has bought C A Blackwell Group for £11.85m. Blackwell’s expertise in bulk earthmoving and civil engineering will be used to complement Hargreaves’ activities in mining and quarrying services contracts.
The private equity firm Bowmark Capital has bought Nexus Vehicle Rental for £51m. Established in 1999, Nexus Vehicle Rental is a B2B broker of rental vehicles.
Barclays has sold its risk analytics and index solutions (RAIS) division to Bloomberg. The RAIS team is to be integrated into Bloomberg’s analytic dashboards, portfolio analytics, order management systems and execution management systems.
The accountancy firms PKF Cooper Parry and Clement Keys have merged. The combined firm will trade as PKF Cooper Parry and consist of 350 people working across two offices in the East and West Midlands.