Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Budget retail chain may fetch £60m

Budget retailer 99p Stores has thrived during the economic downturn

The founding family of 99p Stores is hoping to pocket up to £60 million by selling the value retailer which has thrived in the economic downturn, it has been reported.

Nadir Lalani opened the first store in Holloway in 2001, but it now has nearly 150 outlets following an aggressive expansion drive that has seen it move into dozens of former-Woolworths stores since the chain's collapse in 2008.

The squeeze in consumer spending has increased demand for its products, which range from Panasonic batteries to four cans of apple Tango, all selling for 99p or less. Its rival Poundland has also been one of the retail success stories since the recession.

The Lalani family last year put it up for sale and had originally wanted £80 million, according to the Independent on Sunday. But a price tag of between £50 million and £60 million is now understood to be more realistic.

Electra Partners is thought to be the fore-runner to buy the firm, but a number of other private equity firms are also reported to be interested.

If a buyer is found it is believed that managing director Hussein Lalani and buying director Faisal Lalani - Nadir's sons - will stay on to run the business.

A sale would see 99p Stores follow in the footsteps of its rival Poundland which was sold for £200 million to private equity firm Warburg Pincus in 2010.

99p Stores more than trebled pre-tax profits to £6.3 million in the year to January 31, driven by rising sales and improving margins. Its sales increased 26% to £231 million.

The Northampton-based firm aims to have 600 stores within the next decade, which would see it have sales of more than £300 million and 5,000 employees.

It recently opened a new store format called Family Bargains which is not restricted to selling items for 99p or less.

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