Littlewoods looks to takeover by GUS

Littlewoods, the ailing privately owned catalogue and store group, is seeking a takeover by Argos parent, Great Universal Stores.

LONDON (Brand Republic) - Littlewoods, the ailing privately owned catalogue and store group, is seeking a takeover by Argos parent, Great Universal Stores.

A takeover by GUS would end 80 years with the Moores family -- who are reported to be fed up with the group’s recent lack of success -- at the helm. Last year, Littlewoods made an interim loss of £15.5m between May and October. This compares with £21.8m profit for the same period in 1999.

The talks, still at an early stage since preliminary discussions began last week, follow the shelving of a possible flotation and the appointment of Schroder Salomon Smith Barney as financial adviser.

It is thought that the firm’s traditional football pools operation has been severely hit by the success of the National Lottery, launched seven years ago. The company also blamed “continuing weak market demand” in the UK retail sector -- a slump that mirrors fellow mid-market retailers Marks & Spencer and C&A. Around 200 jobs have been shed as its catalogue business has struggled to compete with internet services.

However, the group is saving £10m by merging its 35 Index shops into Littlewoods stores.



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