Troubled Agent Provocateur may go on market

British lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur is being prepared for a possible sale.

This follows the company’s private equity owners late last year reporting accounting issues, a restructuring and the need for new investment into the high-end lingerie firm.

Agent Provocateur was founded in London in 1994 by Joseph Corre and Serena Rees, and has about 100 stores in 13 countries, including Singapore.

agent-provocateur-store

Private equity group 3i has owned Agent Provocateur for the past decade and has been calling in experts in recent months, hiring investment bank Rothschild to handle a possible sale, The Times and Sunday Times report.

Meanwhile, KPMG has been going through the company’s books and restructuring firm Alix Partners has been engaged to develop a turnaround plan before any possible auction.

However, 3i may not be totally committed to an outright sale, and options include bringing in a new investor, reports CPP-Luxury.com. With an 80 per cent stake in the company, 3i reported the accounting issues when it released its own interim results in November. It said it had written down its investment in the firm by £39 million (US$48 million).

That writedown was also attributed to the luxury slowdown as well as Agent Provocateur’s badly timed expansion program.

As well as the writedown, the company also invested an extra £4 million in the label and non-executive chairman Chris Woodhouse was replaced by 3i partner Ian Lobley last month. Several other executives also left last year.

After paying £60 million for its stake in 2007, 3i tried to sell it in 2014. But it could be now worth only £15 million, says a Sunday Times report.

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