Specialty Fashion Group attracts bid from Harrods Qatari owner
The rumour mill has been churning this week in Australia with talk of the sale of struggling retail firm Specialty Fashion Group. On Thursday, local media reported that Al Alfia Holding, the investment company controlled by the Qatari royal family, which bought Harrods in 2010, could be the suitor.
Sources told the Australian Financial Review that Specialty Fashion Group was approached several months ago by Hilton Mer, the executive chairman of South African retailer Stuttafords International Fashion Company and a representative of Al Alfia, which is controlled by Sheik Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Hamid al Thani.
Specialty Fashion confirmed today that it was considering an offer of 70c a share that would result in the company being taken private. At that price, the buyout bid values the fashion house at $134 million. However, the company has neither confirmed nor denied that the suitor is Al Alfia, other than to say it is a “Middle Eastern investment company," according to a press release.
At present, SFG chief executive Gary Perlstein owns 9.1 per cent of the shares, and apparel company Cotton On Group own 20.15 per cent. Both are reportedly in favour of the deal.
The group has been hurt by the influx of foreign fast-fashion entrants in Australia such as Zara and H&M, and could benefit from the international retail experience held by Al Alfia. If the deal is approved, Al Alfia could take the struggling retail brands to new markets such as the Middle East and South Africa.
Specialty Fashion operates 1100 stores via affordable fashion brands Millers, Katies, Crossroads, Rivers and plus-size retailer, City Chic.
The news comes after a suite of smaller fashion labels collapsed into administration over the past two weeks, including David Lawrence, Marcs, Herringbone and Rhodes & Beckett.
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