Maplin set for power surge as deal looms

Electricals retailer Maplin Electronics is set to spark, as venture capitalist Montagu Private Equity closes in on a£250 million deal.

The venture capitalist has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy the 83-strong chain, owned by private equity firm Graphite Capital, beating off interest from other investors and retailers.

The price tag is understood to be just less than£250 million and a deal is likely to be finalised in two weeks, according to industry sources.

A source close to Montagu said Maplin was attractive because of growth potential and its strong management team, headed by managing director Graham Caldwell.

'They like this business because it's a niche retailer, it's a destination store. They see a cracking team and there's further growth there for roll-out,' said the source.

Maplin specializes in gadgets, electrical goods and components. Last year, it increased profits by 43 per cent to£17.9 million, winning a Sunday Times accolade for the store with the fastest-growing profit.

Like-for-like sales were up 13.3 per cent last year, while turnover surged 30 per cent to£99.2 million. Store openings are accelerating, with 15 planned for this year.

Kesa Electricals, owner of Comet, is believed to have taken a close look at Maplin, as have venture capitalists Hg Capital, Electra and Apax. No comment was available from Maplin.