Oxford Industries puts “For Sale” sign on Ben Sherman

Oxford Industries has put  loss making British brand Ben Sherman up for sale. At its full year results yesterday it announced it has appointed Financo as its financial adviser to manage a sale and seek a buyer, it expects to do a deal this year.

The business bought Ben Sherman for $146m in 2014 since then it has struggled to stay in profit. Sales at the brand were up 26.6% to $25.4m in Q4 and full-year revenues grew 15.3% to $77.5m. Operating losses were reduced to $861,000 in the fourth quarter, versus $2.6m last year. Full-year losses declined to $10.8 million from $13.1 million.

Thomas Chubb III, president and CEO of Oxford Industries, said that that Ben Sherman was now a good acquisition prospect having made solid progress in 2014 with positive sales momentum.

“With the aim of achieving long-term value for our shareholders, we have concluded that the sale of Ben Sherman is the right course of action. We have initiated a sale process and expect a timely conclusion,” he said.

Group revenues at Oxford Industries rose 9.6% to $274.5m from $250.4m. Extended discounting led to gross margin slipping to 54.3%of sales from 55.1% last year.

In the three months ending February 2, group net income was up 5.5 % to $15.8m, or 96 cents a diluted share, from $15m, or 91 cents, in Q3 2013. Earnings per share were $1.08.

Strong performers in Q4 were Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer . Same store sales at Tommy Bahama were up 8% and 10.9% to $186m, operating income grew 12% to $29.1m. At Lilly Pulitzer’s same store sales saw a 9% boost in lifting total sales to $34.8m, operating income grew 47 % to $2.1m.

Oxford’s full-year profits were up 1% to $45.8 million, or $2.79 a diluted share, while revenues hit $997.8 million, 8.8% above their 2013 level.

Shares rallied 10.1 % to $65.61 in after-hours trading following the release of results.

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