17 May – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The Manchester office of la…

17 May – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The Manchester office of law firm Cobbetts has advised Matalan, the out-of-town clothing and homewares retailer, on the £30 million sale of the jeans business, Lee Cooper, to a syndicate of equity investors led by Emerisque Capital, and US investors Sun Capital and The 180 Group.

The deal, which took 18 months from initial discussions to final completion, will allow Matalan to continue selling the jeans and other Lee Cooper branded products in its stores in the UK.

Lee Cooper, which has a factory in Tunisia, made operating losses of £1.17 million in the run up to February 2005 as its sales fell 2 per cent to £55.6 million.

Robert Turnbull, head of the corporate team at Cobbetts, led the deal and comments: “Due to the international nature and complexity of the transaction, our team worked very closely with Matalan over the course of the transaction. Both Ian Riggs and Stephen Hardwick at Cobbetts were key figures on the corporate side of the deal and contributed to its smooth running, and Kate Storey in Cobbetts’ Commercial team dealt with the post-acquisition supply and licence arrangements, whilst spending two secondments at Matalan’s Head Office in Skelmersdale.”

Tim Laughton, head of corporate development for Matalan comments: “This was a very complex deal with a number of parties involved. We needed legal support and advice on a whole range of issues including property, environmental, pensions, loan instruments, tax and intellectual property, as well as corporate and commercial advice. Robert and his team retained a calm approach throughout the whole process and were central to us achieving the desired result.”

Matalan announced last week that sales during the year had made encouraging progress with underlying growth up by 4.5 per cent over the 52 weeks to the end of February.

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