Retail news round-up on January 23, 2014: Hotel Chocolat revives stake sales; Sports Direct and Debenhams set for crunch meeting today, United Carpets and Floors2Go change pricing practices after OFT probe; eBay activist investor calls for PayPal spin-off
Hotel Chocolat looks to revive interest from buyers for stake in business
Retailer Hotel Chocolat is reviving its bid to sell a share in the £100m business this year. The British chocolatier and cocoa grower is understood to have asked advisory firm PwC to examine market appetite for a £30m to £40m raise in equity, according to the Telegraph.
Entrepreneurs Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris are keen to remain majority owners in the company. The retailer is understood to want to raise funding to allow Thirlwell and Harris to take some cash out of the business, expand into Asian markets and roll out its casual dining business.
Sports Direct and Debenhams set for crunch meeting today
Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp and Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey are set to meet today to discuss how they can work with eachother.
The meeting comes after Sports Direct, controlled by billionaire Mike Ashley, took a 4.6% stake in Debenhams, which it sold a few days later and replaced with a complex option agreement that allows it to take a 6.6% stake in the department store.
Sports Direct has said it wants to explore options to work with Debenhams at an “operational level” which sources close to the situation believe could lead to the sports retailer’s brands being sold in the department store.
United Carpets and Floors2Go change pricing practices after OFT probe
Floorings firms United Carpets and Floors2Go have agreed to change their pricing practices after an OFT investigation.
United Carpets has said it will ensure its advertised recommended retail prices are genuine and are those which products are typically sold throughout the year and will refrain from using time-sensitive promotions such as ‘Closing Down Sales’ without giving an explanation of the circumstances of the promotion.
Meanwhile, Floors2Go owner Nixon & Hope has agreed to change its practices after its website was found to be advertising products at an initial square metre price which excluded VAT. The OFT also found that some claimed savings were incorrect.
Activist investor makes proposal for eBay to spin off PayPal business
Activist investor Carl Icahn has called for online giant eBay to spin off its PayPal payments business into a separate entity in a non-binding proposal, The Telegraph reported. However, eBay’s board has concluded it would be better off keeping PayPal as part of the company. In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal in a deal worth $1.5bn. Icahn, who earlier this month took a 0.8% interest in the online marketplace, also nominated two of his employees to the eBay board.