Reiss owner weighs options for fashion brand

Reiss could be set for a sale or a stock market listing this year after its private equity owner engaged investment bank Rothschild & Co to advise on options for the upmarket fashion brand, according to people briefed on the matter.

Warburg Pincus took a stake of about 70 per cent in Reiss, whose designs have been worn by the Duchesses of both Sussex and Cambridge, in 2016 at a price that valued the group at around £230m. David Reiss, who founded the business in 1971, remains chairman and holds a minority stake.

The process is at an early stage, a person with knowledge of the matter said, with a sale more likely than a flotation given the UK’s struggling initial public offering market and generally poor sentiment towards retailers among public investors.

Reiss has been one of the more successful chains on the high street in recent years. In the year to February 2 2019, the last for which full accounts are available, the company reported a 10 per cent increase in sales while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew by a fifth to £19.3m.

In the subsequent half-year, same-store sales rose a quarter at constant exchange rates.

Reiss, which describes itself as “a global affordable luxury apparel brand” trades from 160 stores, concessions and franchises in 15 countries including the UK, the US, France and Germany as well as its website. Chief executive Christos Angelides spent almost three decades at Next, joining Reiss after a brief and unsuccessful stint at Abercrombie & Fitch in the US.

If US-based Warburg does decide to dispose of its stake, Reiss will join several other UK-based retailers whose ownership structure is set to change.

South African conglomerate Steinhoff is looking to sell or float its fast-growing Pepco unit, which includes former Warburg Pincus investment Poundland, while compatriot Brait has indicated it intends to divest its stakes in UK fashion retailer New Look and frozen foods group Iceland.

Travis Perkins, the builders’ merchant, is also looking to separate retail DIY chain Wickes from its trade-focused operations.

Reiss, Warburg Pincus and Rothschild all declined to comment. The appointment of Rothschild was first reported by Sky News.


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