Fat Face to float on London Stock Exchange

The Fat Face store in Litchfield Image copyright Fat Face

Fashion chain Fat Face has become the latest retailer to announce plans to list its shares on the stock exchange.

The chain plans to raise £110m through the flotation in late May.

It follows a string of other retail stock market debuts in London that have included Poundland, and Pets At Home in recent months.

The flotation will see majority owner, private equity firm Bridgepoint, reduce its stake alongside other investors and management, the retailer said.

Fat Face said it will use the proceeds from the share listing to reduce its debts to about £60m.

Sir Stuart Rose, the former boss of Marks and Spencer and current chairman of Fat Face, said the retailer had gone from strength to strength in recent years.

"The significant investment in product quality and the clear focus on full price like-for-like sales growth has led to the consistent delivery of impressive financial results and cash generation," he added.

"The listing of Fat Face on the London Stock Exchange marks an exciting stage in the company's continued growth and development."

The Fat Face float comes just days after discount shoe retailer Shoe Zone announced its intention to list on the stock market in a move that will value the business at about £100m.

In the past couple of weeks Card Factory and Patisserie Valerie have also announced plans to float.

Rapid growth

Bridgepoint paid £360m to buy Fat Face in 2007 from rival private equity firm Advent, but had to inject another £25m as the retailer struggled to find its niche.

Fat Face launched in 1988, when founders Jules Leaver and Tim Slade began selling T-shirts and sweatshirts from a VW Campervan in the French Alps to fund their outdoor lifestyle.

The group opened its first UK store in 1992. It now has 208 stores across the UK and Ireland and is planning to trial a limited expansion into the US.

Since the arrival of former Asda and Marks & Spencer director Anthony Thompson, who became chief executive three years ago and stopped the policy of having perennial discounts, Fat Face has seen revenues increase from £152.7m in 2011 to £178.8m in 2013.

Like-for-like sales - which take into account sales at stores open for more than a year - grew 1.7% and 8.6% in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

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