Belfast Telegraph

DFS market flotation 'lined up'

High-street furniture chain DFS is reportedly lining up a stock market flotation that would value the business at up to £1 billion.

Private equity backer Advent is planning to cash in on a City appetite for floats that recently saw estate agents Foxtons put on more than £100 million in value within hours of its shares becoming available to investors, according to the Sunday Times.

Increasing signs of economic prosperity coupled with a buoyant stock market are convincing a growing number of privately-owned firms to consider raising money via share sales.

Businesses whose fortunes are linked to the resurgent housing market, buoyed by the Government's Help to Buy scheme, have led the charge for flotations.

The Foxtons float was a recent notable example while earlier in the year the public offering of shares in Countrywide, the UK's biggest estate agency chain, saw it valued at more than £800 million.

Property website Zoopla is reported to be considering flotation plans valuing it at more than £1 billion.

Also on the horizon for City investors is next month's privatisation of Royal Mail, valued at about £3 billion.

Now it is reported that DFS will appoint advisers to begin work on float preparations within the next few weeks, with the business expected to be valued at between £800 million and £1 billion.

Advent bought the Doncaster-based chain three years ago in a deal worth £590 million.

Founded in 1969, it has 74 stores across the UK, mostly in out-of-town retail parks, and employs more than 2,600 people.

On its website, Advent says: "The business operates in a sector which has been difficult for some retailers, but the company's relative size, own-manufacturing capabilities and reputation as market leader has allowed it to perform well and gain market share since the downturn in 2008."

Recent figures suggest the market for sofas is looking up, with big-ticket furniture and flooring sales recently enjoying their best month in more than three years, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Advent declined to comment on the Sunday Times story.

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