Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Goldsmiths’ owner hires Cavendish to handle £200m sale of jewellery chain

The group behind the Goldsmiths jewellery chain has been put on the sale block with a reported £200m price tag.

Luxury watch retailer and jeweller Aurum — which also runs Watches of Switzerland and Mappin & Webb — has hired Cavendish Corporate Finance to handle the sale.

The group, which has 165 stores, said the move comes after it made record revenues of £326m in the year to January 30, with like-for-like sales up 16.6% despite a tough Christmas for the retail sector.

It increased underlying earnings by 53% to £16.1 million.

A sale would see chairman Don McCarthy — who owns 25% — and management, including chief executive Justin Stead, land significant windfalls for their holdings in the business.

But Aurum is controlled by the resolution committee of failed Icelandic bank Landsbanki, having acquired its stake after the collapse of Baugur in 2009, to which it loaned money. Landsbanki was taken over by the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority in October 2008.

Mr McCarthy said: “The business has delivered well beyond our expectations in terms of both revenue and profit growth.

“Justin Stead and his team have significantly outperformed the first two years of our investment plan and we have therefore decided to look for a new investor that is able to assist this team in capitalising on the very significant and credible opportunities that are now presenting themselves.”

Aurum — taken from the Latin word for Gold — claims to be the largest distributor in the world of luxury brands such as Omega, Tag Heuer and Gucci, as well as the UK's largest distributor for Rolex, Cartier and Breitling products.

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