Jacques Vert eyes Baird with £17.8m hostile bid

Classic womenswear retailer Jacques Vert made a£17.8 million hostile bid for clothing firm William Baird, which is eight times bigger by turnover, on Wednesday.

The takeover would give Jacques Vert a 40 per cent share of the classic womenswear market, according to chairman Bill Reid.

William Baird comprises three womenswear brands - Planet, Precis Petite and Windsmoor. Reid said the Baird brands are an obvious opportunity, as they 'fit in nicely alongside Jacques Vert'.

He said he will concentrate on cutting central costs from the businesses and admitted that might involve job cuts at Baird's Tottenham head office.

In concessions, Reid would flex space. He said: 'If we had Windsmoor next to Jacques Vert, then we could flex the concession space more heavily to Jacques Vert in the summer, when occasionwear is strong, and to Windsmoor in the winter when coats are stronger.'

William Baird's activewear business, including Lowe Alpine, Melka and Tenson, would be sold off.

Retail Knowledge Bank research director Robert Clark said the swoop would increase Jacques Vert's presence and credibility.

The board of William Baird said it was consulting its financial advisers as Retail Week went to press.

Jacques Vert made a pre-tax profit of£900,000 on sales of£29.5 million in the year to April.

William Baird made a pre-tax loss of£11.8 million on sales of£237.3 million in the 13 months to February.