Ex-Boss in Bid for UK Fashion Brand Principles

LONDON (Reuters) – Peter Davies, the former chief executive of Principles, has submitted a bid for the British women’s fashion brand, he said on Friday.

Principles’ owner, Mosaic Fashions, said earlier this month it had received expressions of interest in the brand.

Mosaic, which also has brands including Karen Millen, Oasis and Warehouse, is 49 percent owned by stricken Icelandic investment group Baugur. But that stake is now effectively controlled by nationalized Icelandic bank Kaupthing, and Mosaic is working to secure its future financing.

“Mosaic have made clear that they are prepared to sell Principles and, having run Principles and Warehouse successfully from 2001 to 2005, my colleagues and I are supportive of the brand and are confident that it still has an important role to play on the UK High Street,” Davies said in a statement.

“We recognize that the retail environment is tough and is likely to remain so for some time and we have taken care to ensure that we structure the potential acquisition to give us sufficient time and financial strength to rebuild the brand.”

Davies, who is being advised by Smith & Williamson, did not give details of his bid or its financing.

Principals has 91 stores across Britain and Ireland, as well as 297 concessions in department stores including Debenhams Plc (DEB.L).

Newspapers have identified Debenhams as a potential bidder, while both retail billionaire Philip Green and private equity firm Alchemy have said they are interested in parts of Baugur’s crumbling UK retail empire. (Reporting by Mark Potter, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)