Allders boss Terry Green has contacted staff to brush aside concerns over the department store group's future, following takeover talks for majority shareholder Minerva.
Property business Minerva, which owns 60 per cent of Allders holding company Scarlett Retail, announced three weeks ago that it is discussing a potential sale. There was speculation that tycoon Tom Hunter and rival House of Fraser may be interested in buying Allders.
'The agreement between Minerva, Lehmans, Phil (Cox, commercial director) and I will not be affected by Minerva's discussions. Our job is to continue to improve Allders and I would ask you not to get sidetracked with gossip and press speculation,' said the statement, sent to staff and suppliers.
'(The Minerva partners) have reassured us there is not an issue,' Green told Retail Week. Green and Cox each own 10 per cent of the business and investor Lehman Brothers owns the remaining 20 per cent.
Green also rejected reports that Allders had seen operating losses of£56 million. He dismissed the figures as 'a year out of date' and an overhang from previous management. No figures for the year to June 2004 are yet available.
Green is understood to have avenues open to him should Minerva be bought, including an option to buy Minerva's stake. Other options are thought to include Minerva chief executive Andrew Rosenfeld and chairman Sir David Garrard, who own 24 per cent of Minerva's shares, investing privately to acquire Minerva's Allders stake.
- Analysis: page 10.