British shoe chain Office nears $450 mln London listing, say sources-Reuters

(Reuters) – British shoe chain Office is pressing ahead with an initial public offering that could value the private equity-backed company at around 300 million pounds ($453.09 million), sources familiar with the plan said.

Office has selected JPMorgan Chase & Co and Jefferies Group to lead its London listing in the coming months, the sources said.

Media reports said in August that owner Silverfleet Capital was considering floating the chain and was close to hiring JPMorgan.

The retailer, which reported core earnings of around 35 million pounds ($53 million) at the end of 2014, operates 153 sites, primarily in the UK and Ireland.

Silverfleet, which is advised by Rothschild, hopes to finalise a London float towards the end of March depending on market conditions, two of the sources said.

Representatives at Office were not available for comment. Spokesmen for Silverfleet, Rothschild, JPMorgan and Jefferies declined to comment.

Silverfleet acquired Office in 2010 for an undisclosed sum from West Coast Capital, the investment vehicle of retail entrepreneur Tom Hunter, which first invested in 2003.

The chain has grown to 99 standalone stores and has 48 concessions in Selfridges, Topshop, House of Fraser & Harvey Nichols.
Office, which owes its name to the second-hand office furniture used for its first London store in 1981, will join other fashion brands that are listing shares in London such as upmarket shoe maker Jimmy Choo.

Jimmy Choo, known for its stilettos, went public in October with a valuation of 546 million pounds. It was priced at the bottom of its indicative range, amid declining enthusiasm for new issues at the end of 2014.

But the start of 2015 could see renewed appetite for UK share offerings before political uncertainty kicks in ahead of the general election in May.

HSS Hire Group, a UK tool and equipment hire company, set a price range of 210-262 pence per share on Thursday in a bid to raise gross proceeds of 103 million pounds from its London listing.

Another planned London share offering was derailed though on Thursday as U.S. private equity fund KKR snapped up British rail ticket website from buyout firm Exponent, which decided to pull its stock listing after announcing plans to go public on Jan 8.