The online discount clothing website M and M Direct is to change hands for more than £80m amid a frenzy of deals involving some of the UK’s best-known retailers.
Sky News understands that TA Associates, the private equity group which bought M and M in 2007, has appointed bankers from Canaccord Genuity to handle the auction, which is expected to attract significant interest.
Set up in 1987 by Mark Ellis and Martin Churchward to sell end-of-line clearance sports products, the website now sells products from more than 300 brands such as Diesel, New Balance and Nike, and claims to attract nearly one million visitors each week.
TA, which is also trying to sell its interest in the premium lifestyle retailer Cath Kidston, bought M and M from ECI Partners, another investment firm, seven years ago.
It has flirted with a sale of the business before, being stalked by Mike Ashley, the tycoon behind Sports Direct International, in 2011.
News of M and M Direct’s plan to sell itself again comes on the same day that Asos, one of the City’s most popular internet retailing stocks, delivered one of the most disappointing trading updates in its history.
Shares in Asos plunged by 20% as investors digested the revised profit forecast, while shares in Boohoo, the fashion retailer which listed on London’s junior AIM market last week, also fell sharply.
M and M, which sells products at discounts of between 40% and 90% off high street prices, is understood to have had a decent Christmas trading period, although the company has not been without its difficulties.
Accounts filed at Companies House for the 12 months ending February 24 last year reveal that the previous year had been especially troubled.
“The company encountered a number of market and strategic issues which led to [its] turnover decreasing by 4%. A wholesale review of the business was conducted and a new strategic plan has been introduced which, along with new management, has allowed the business to return to profitable growth.”