Electric Business

A brief summary of business news to keep you informed on company start-ups, corporate downsizing and mergers and acquisitions.

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Sports Direct buys Jack Wills for £12.8m

Sports Direct has announced it is to shut eight Jack Wills stores, following its acquisition for £12.8m earlier this month. Jack Wills has some 98 UK stores and 1,700 staff, as well as six franchises including in the Middle East. The takeover continues billionaire owner Mike Ashley’s acquisition spree for struggling retail brands, which has seen mixed returns so far. The largest acquisition, £90m for House of Fraser last year, was recently described as ‘terminal’ in its financial results. Sports Direct is reportedly seeking to reduce rents at Jack Wills stores to zero, in exchange for 5% of turnover to landlords.

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1,100 jobs at risk as Boohoo buys Karen Millen and Coast

£2bn-valued fashion e-tailer Boohoo has snapped up Karen Millen and Coast from administration for £18.2m. Boohoo said the businesses were ‘high complementary additions to its scalable multi-brand platform’, opening opportunities with an older customer base. Administrators said 62 jobs will be axed immediately, while the two brands’ 32 UK stores and 177 concessions will continue to trade for a short period while assets are sold off. 1,100 jobs are at risk. Based in Manchester, Boohoo saw sales jump 39% in its latest quarter to more than £250m, after a tie-up with stars from hit show Love Island and social media campaign paid dividends. Boohoo’s brands include Nasty Gal, PrettyLittleThing and MissPap, bought in March.

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Charles Stanley buys Myddleton Croft

Leeds-based investment management firm Myddleton Croft has been bought by wealth management company Charles Stanley. Myddleton Croft has manages £96.5m of funds, and had turnover of £1.1m for the year ended 30 June 2019.

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Fleetondemand acquires FleetEurope

BGF-backed mobility technology provider Fleetondemand has taken over FleetEurope for an undisclosed sum. The deal promises customers combined access to the UK’s largest vehicle rental fleet and branch network, boasting 600,000 vehicles available from 2,200 branch locations nationwide, via Fleetondemand’s Mobilleo platform. The system manages 320,000 rental transactions from 19,000 individual users a year.

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Majestic Wine offloads business to focus on Naked Wines brand

Majestic Wine has agreed to sell its retail and commercial business to Bacchus Holdings, a vehicle controlled by funds managed by Fortress Investment Group, in a deal worth £100m. The sale includes everything but Majestic’s website, with £95m paid by Fortress for the businesses and one undisclosed property sold for redevelopment for £5m. The funds from the deal will be used to invest in Majestic’s Naked Wines brand, bought for £70m in 2015, as well as eliminating group debt and rewarding shareholders with £3.8m in dividends. Fortress intends to invest in Majestic Wine as a retail proposition, favouring a face-to-face experience over online.

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Travis Perkins accelerates Wickes demerger plans

Builders’ merchants Travis Perkins has accelerated plans to demerge Wickes by 2020. Details of the proposed £500m spin-off were included in the group’s mid-year statement, where it revealed Wickes had seen sales growth of 9.7%. Travis Perkins’ retail division revenue, which includes Toolstation, Tile Giant and Wickes, stood at £695m. The move aims to simplify Travis Perkins’ business and refocus on trade customers. Former Tesco executive David Wood was brought in to replace Wickes CEO Simon King in July after its operating profit dropped almost a third over two years to £69m.

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Indeed acquires job advertising tech firm ClickIQ

Careers site Indeed has acquired ClickIQ, an automated job advertising tech platform. ClickIQ’s technology manages, tracks and optimises the performance of clients’ recruitment advertising in real-time, to reach both active and passive jobseekers. It has offices in Godalming and Aberdeen. Indeed reported turnover of £14.6m for the 2017 calendar year, up more than 75% from the previous year.

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Angela Viney and Linda Heald merge

Angela Viney Conveyancing Services and Linda Heald & Co Property Lawyers have merged. Established nine years ago in Sowerby Bridge, Linda Heald specialises in the investor and buy-to-let market in England and Wales. Angela Viney meanwhile has more than 30 years’ experience. Viney herself was one of the first ever licensed conveyancers in England and Wales, and has served as Chair of the profession’s regulatory body, the CLC.

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Miss Group hits acquisition trail with deal for Ilait

BGF-backed web hosting company Miss Group has acquired global cloud wholesaler Ilait. Founded in 2006, Ilait provides white-label services such as email, web hosting, domain registration, dedicated servers and VPS services. In August 2018, Miss Group received £6.4m investment from BGF, with a further £13m in June to accelerate global expansion. This acquisition adds more than 35,000 customers to the group.

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Assist Group joins idverde

French green service provider idverde has bought Assist Group, a specialist in grounds maintenance, arboriculture and highway services in the North West and Midlands. Based in St Helens, Assist has annual sales of £14m and employs over 200 people. Its acquisition improves idverde’s national coverage and boosts its headcount to more than 3,000.

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