Newswatch: Jessops ditches float plans

FD John Crabtree and the management board blamed the pull-out last Thursday on institutional investors undervaluing the company, which boasted a like-for-like sales increase of 12% this year that outstripped the retail sector average for the third year in a row.

Chairman Tim Brookes said: ‘There is every indication the market is set to undervalue our business and we are not prepared to see this happen. Flotation remains our objective, but it cannot happen at any cost.’

Crabtree and the board had hoped investors would put aside market aversion to retailers and would be drawn to its strong performance and a solid business based around high street outlets, catalogue and telephone channels.

The Leicester-based retail specialists was one of the first photography sites to offer an internet-based developing service launched in October.

The company had pitched for a 160p to 210p price range and market value of £81m to £107m, and planned to raise £22.7m to double its chain to more than 450 over the next seven years. Jessop’s private equity investors, Bridgepoint Capital and PPM Ventures, said: ‘We will not allow this excellent business to be undervalued.

‘We fully endorse the decision to postpone the flotation and the necessary resources will be committed to see the business continues with its stated expansion plans,’ he added.

Management accountant Crabtree joined Jessops in January 1997 and is a former FD of WH Smith Retail and an executive with Do It All Limited and Pentos Retailing.


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