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French Connection sells majority stake in Toast to Bestseller

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - French Connection Group PLC has sold its majority stake in fashion and homeware label Toast Limited, together with the stake held by the brand's founders, to Danish fashion group Bestseller United for 23.3 million pounds.

The deal sees Jamies and Jessica Seaton, founders of womenswear and accessories retailer, sell their 25 percent stake in the business to Bestseller. French Connection, which owns a 75 percent stake in Toast, is expected receive cash proceeds of approximately 13.9 million pounds for the sale of its stake, which is subject to shareholder approval.

Bestseller to acquire lifestyle brand Toast for 23.3 million pounds

"We are proud to welcome Toast into our Bestseller family," said Bestseller CEO and owner Anders Holch Povlsen. "As fashion retailers we have been impressed with the business for some time, and our meetings with the management team have confirmed the potential and documented that it is a solid company with sound values and great people."

The lifestyle brand reported revenues of 19 million pounds for the financial year ended 31 January 2018, together with 1.5 million pounds of underlying operating profit before tax. Toast is set to become a part of Bestseller's group of brand, but will remain an independent unit, as its current employees will continue to run the Toast company in the UK. Bestseller's acquisition of Toast is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to be completed within four to six weeks.

"This is great news for Toast and its highly talented team. Toast is a very strong brand and I have no doubt that the team will continue to develop it further under Bestseller's ownership and Suzie's continued leadership," added Stephen Marks, Chairman and Chief Executive of French Connection. "The price achieved for Toast reflects the strength of the brand and the business we have built behind it. French Connection will use the transaction proceeds to underpin its core business, allowing us to focus on our priority of returning to sustainable profitability and growth," concluded Marks.

Founded in Swansea, Wales in 1997 by Jessica and Jamie Seaton, Toast has grown into a premium lifestyle brand that offers womenswear, accessories, nightwear, loungewear as well as homeware. The brand current counts 13 standalone stores throughout the UK, and its products are sold through its wholesale channels in John Lewis as well as online. French Connection paid an undisclosed amount for its stake in Toast in 2000.

Following news of the sales, shares in the struggling British fashion retailer rose 19 percent.

Photo 1: Bestseller

Photo 2: Toast, Summer 2018

French Connection