US partner Pricoa makes an exit
Stationery Box is understood to be seeking a new private equity backer after US partner Pricoa Capital decided to exit the specialist retailer.

Chief executive Alan Gaynor said: 'We are in discussion with a private equity company. We want to build and expand the business.

'They [Pricoa] are in the process of pulling out. They have been in for a few years and they have gone home to the US.' Gaynor added that Stationery Box expected to make an announcement next week about a new partner.

Retail entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, who owns stationery chains Ryman and Partners, confirmed that he had been in negotiations about a deal, but decided not to proceed. However, Gaynor said that he was not aware of any interest from Paphitis.

Stationery Box started as a family business in 1989 and has since expanded to operate 139 stores in the UK. In 1998, the retailer was sold to a management buy-out team backed by Pricoa.

Gaynor, who holds 25 per cent of Stationery Box's ordinary shares, was appointed chief executive in 2000. 'I am the single biggest shareholder,' he said.

It is thought that Stationery Box, like many UK retailers, has found trading conditions challenging over the past year or so, but Gaynor declined to comment on current trading.

In the 12 months to June last year, Stationery Box Holdings reported profit before interest, tax and exceptional items of£1.7 million, compared with£1.3 million the year before. Like-for-like sales increased 4.6 per cent, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Stationery Box has not yet reported figures for the year ending June 2006.