The UK’s largest independent perfume retailer has started making moves for a £200million stock market listing that would defy the gloom of a high street increasingly affected by the crisis.
Sky News has learned that The Fragrance Shop, which is owned by Manchester-based entrepreneur Sanjay Vadera, is working with investment bank Rothschild on plans for an IPO.
City councilors have been told to work on an initial public offering (IPO) in the coming weeks, although The Fragrance Shop is unlikely to make its public debut – if it pursues such a move – until the year next.
The chain operates in nearly 215 stores, selling brands such as Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent.
Founded in 1994, it bucked the trend of a struggling retail sector by posting a 5.6% increase in like-for-like sales in the six weeks to Dec. 31.
He said his top-selling products during the peak period included Emporio Armani’s Stronger With You and Christian Dior’s Miss Dior.
Its performance and potential IPO plans emerged during one of the most brutal times for the high street in many years.
In the past fortnight alone, Maplin and Toys R Us have slumped into administration, while New Look has confirmed plans revealed by Sky News earlier this year to close 60 stores as part of a restructuring deal with the owners.
In total, the crises of the three channels endangered around 6,500 jobs.
Other retailers, including Carpetright, House of Fraser and Mothercare, remain under pressure as lenders become increasingly concerned about their exposures.
Retailers lament the twin pressures of rising costs such as rent, business rates and other employer taxes, and the accelerated migration of consumers to digital channels.
In a statement on Thursday, a spokesperson for The Fragrance Shop said: “After strong year-over-year growth and positive Christmas 2017 sales figures, the business is exploring a number of opportunities to strategic expansion available that will allow us to build on our success and continue to trade vigorously in a challenging retail market.
“At this stage, no final decision has been made as to what this will look like.
“As a family business, we are excited to continue our mission to be first in fragrance with this firmly at the heart of everything we do.”
People familiar with the process have warned that Mr Vadera could still decide not to pursue any form of corporate action.