Sycamore Partners responded to press speculation in a statement this morning (18 March), noting it is in the early stages of considering making a possible cash offer for Ted Baker.

It adds, however: “There can be no certainty that an offer will ultimately be made nor as to the terms on which any offer may be made.”

Sycamore Partners has until 15 April to make its decision.

Shares in Ted Baker, which have fallen by almost 95% over the past four years, according to a report published by The Independent, were up by more than 20% this morning.

In a bourse filing following Sycamore Partners’ statement, the fashion brand says: “Ted Baker continues to make good progress with its transformation and the company is emerging from Covid as a stronger and more financially sustainable business. The board is confident in the company’s independent prospects and would evaluate any offer for the company against the strong shareholder value creation that it believes can be delivered as a standalone company.”

It reiterated there can be no certainty that any firm offer will be made nor as to the terms on which any might be made, and advised shareholders to take no action at this time.

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In a pre-close trading update for the 12-week period to 29 January last month, Ted Baker hailed accelerating sales growth, with sequential improvement in the face of Omicron headwinds.

Group sales were up 35% compared to the fourth quarter of last year, and increased 18% on this year’s third quarter. Compared to fourth-quarter pre-pandemic levels, retail sales were running at -10% before Omicron warnings, falling to -42% during the Omicron surge.

Commenting on the potential cash offer, Eleonora Dani, equity research analyst at Shore Capital, says the question is, at what premium would investors consider a potential bid, noting that shares are down 29% over the past year.

“Despite inflation set to squeeze discretionary spend, we see Ted Baker in a stronger position than other competitors, ready to capitalise on the ‘return to normal’ trends post-pandemic.”

She adds while the brand has been criticised for relying on instinct rather than data to make decisions in the past, it is increasingly moving towards better use of data to derive its strategy.

“The intel gathered by the company shows that Ted is a brand naturally differentiated and recognisable, and both characteristics come with a critical appeal to consumers. Ted is also positioned as a British lifestyle brand with a very accessible price point in the luxury goods space, and the price positioning gives it a highly competitive stance.

Sycamore Partners was said to be one of the parties that expressed an interest in US department store retailer Kohl’s Corporation at the start of the year.

Kohl’s confirmed in January it received letters expressing interest in acquiring the company, with a report published by Reuters claiming Sycamore Partners had approached the department store chain with a potential takeover offer of US$9bn.