Scotland business

Sir Tom Hunter sells footwear chain Office

Sir Tom Hunter Image copyright Other
Image caption The sale of Office is the second major retail deal in recent months for Sir Tom's Silverfleet Capital

Office, the chain of shoe shops, has been sold by leading retail entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter.

Private equity firm Silverfleet Capital has bought the 121 fashion footwear outlets and online operation from Sir Tom's investment company, West Coast Capital.

The sale is understood to be for about £150m.

The Ayrshire businessman and philanthropist bought Office seven years ago, when it had 23 stores.

By last year, it had revenue of £146m, with earnings before exceptionals of £18m.

The sale means a multi-million pound payout for chief executive Brian McCluskey, who will remain with the business.

It is the second major retail deal in recent months for Silverfleet Capital, having acquired the Schneider Group, a German catalogue and online retailer of fashion and lifestyle products.

Office first opened in 1981 and now has 75 stand-alone stores in the UK and Ireland, with a further 46 concessions in the House of Fraser, Topshop, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

Growing market

It sells footwear brands Ugg, Converse, Vans and Hunter as well as its own brands.

Sir Tom said: "Having held Office for seven years and grown it to become the dominant UK fashion footwear business it was appropriate to sell to Silverfleet to oversee the next phase of growth.

"Brian (McCluskey) and the management team have done an outstanding job and we wish them and Silverfleet Capital well."

Sir Tom's property and retail investments took a major hit from the recession, but he had other good news this week, with the sale of oil services firm PSN, in which he had a £30m stake, to Wood Group.

Gareth Whiley, a partner at Silverfleet Capital, said: "The young fashion sector of the footwear market is growing fast and there is still room for a roll-out of stores within the UK and potentially overseas."

Silverfleet Capital, formerly PPM Capital, has offices in London, Paris, Munich and Chicago.

It has a £600m fund to invest in businesses valued between £90m and £270m.

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