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DIY bid speculation

Homebase in sights of pizza and pubs tycoon Osmond

Homebase

There has been a strong turnaround at Homebase

Homebase is believed to be a target of hospitality entrepreneur Hugh Osmond after the DIY chain enjoyed strong lockdown sales.

Mr Osmond, who built Pizza Express and pub group Punch Taverns, is said to be one of a number parties interested in launching a bid of up to £300 million.

One source said there had been a strong turnaround at Homebase since it was bought by Hilco Capital in 2018 for a nominal £1.

Most of its remaining 164 stores returned to profit last year.

However, the valuation could be inflated by a “lockdown boost” that may fade once normality resumes.

It faces increased competition when non-essential retailers reopen in England from Monday 12 April.

If he launches a bid, Mr Osmond is expected to finance a deal through his Osmond Capital investment firm, according to Sky News.

Investors confidence rises

Investors are forecasting that the reopening of shops will usher in a summer spending spree across the retail and hospitality sector.

The FTSE 350 General Retailers Index, mostly made up of high street chains, closed at its highest level for almost five years on Friday after rising 48% over the past 12 months.

Hedge funds have been unwinding short bets — from which they stand to profit from falling share prices — placed against high street names during lockdown.

Investor confidence follows predictions from the Bank of England that consumers will be keen to spend an estimated £250 billion in “accidental savings” amassed during the lockdown.

Hammerson sale

Struggling shopping centre giant Hammerson has agreed to sell its retail parks to the Canadian private equity player Brookfield as it tries to shore up its balance sheet.

Brookfield will pay about £350 million for seven retail parks.

Hammerson wrote down the value of its portfolio by almost a quarter to £6.3 billion last year as the pandemic exacerbated the turmoil in the retail market.

Chief executive Rita-Rose Gagne’s attempts to clear some of its £2.2 billion debts have been hindered by huge shortfalls in rent.

Scots shoppers miss out

Shoppers in Scotland will miss out on a massive clearance sale at Debenhams which is reopening its stores in England and Wales from Monday 12 April for a short period to clear stock.

All of the company’s 15 stores north of the border will remain shut because non-essential retail does not resume until 26 April.



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