Shoe retailer Office up for sale

Thu, 16 Apr 2020 | BUSINESS SALE

High street footwear retailer Office has been put up for sale by its South African parent company Truworths International.

Truworths International has hired professional services firm Alvarez & Marshal to oversee an accelerated sales process for the business, which has 130 stores across the UK, Germany and Ireland, as the coronavirus pandemic hits trading performance.

It is unclear whether a solvent sale of the business is possible, but, according to information sent to prospective bidders, it is "anticipated that a sale will be completed within a short time-frame".

Truworths International acquired the Office chain in a 2015 deal worth around £250 million, marking its first foray into Europe, as the South African group looked to diversify.

Last year, Truworths International had considered a formal restructuring of Office through a company voluntary agreement (CVA) following a period of decline. However, it instead reached an agreement to refinance funding for the chain, with loss-making stores closing upon the expiry of their leases.

In its most recent accounts, to the year ending June 30 2019, Office reported sales of £285.2 million, down slightly from £285.5 million the year before. Its EBITDA for the year was £9.5 million, significantly down from £21 million the year prior, while gross margin fell from 44.4 per cent in 2018 to 42.3 per cent in 2019.

The company said that the UK’s tough trading environment had lead to a drop in sales, gross margin and EBITDA, but said that a “number of initiatives”, including the refinancing of debt and the transformation of its flagship Oxford Street store, left it “well placed for the future”.

According to those accounts, Office held fixed assets of close to £10.9 million, with current assets of just over £179 million and net assets of £147.9 million.

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