Private equity sharks have been circling Very, but the owners’ £4bn valuation has made it difficult for a deal to be completed.
Funds have been approached to take over the online fashion and lifestyle website, which had been preparing to go public a couple of years ago, as the Barclay family looks to sell assets acquired over more than three decades.
But potential buyers have been deterred by its £4bn valuation and the family is refusing to budge on the price, according to a Times report.
Some investors have also been put off by the retailer’s high debt, although some analysts believe “smart bankers” could devise an alternative exit route for the family.
It comes as the proposed takeover of Barclays-owned Telegraph newspaper has raised questions over the future of its other assets.
Designs: Very, led by actress Michelle Keegan, sells clothing, footwear, electronics, furniture and gifts.
The company, run by actress Michelle Keegan, sells clothing, footwear, electronics, furniture and gifts and is based in Speke, Liverpool.
Susannah Streeter, head of markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Very has had a real rise in operating costs and that is exactly where a private equity firm would look to come in, restructure and remove high costs.”
The company planned to go public in mid-2023, with a valuation of up to £4 billion.
But since then, many companies have been put off by the London market due to the fall in technology stocks and difficulty accessing capital.
Although Very enjoyed a boom in sales during the pandemic, this has faded in recent years.
Very’s profits fell 92 per cent to £4.8m, from £63.9m, during its latest financial year to July 2023 as it was hit by higher operating costs.
And its middle market position means it has struggled with weaker sales for its fashion and sports divisions in recent months, Streeter added.
There has even been speculation that Very could fall into the hands of RedBird IMI, the Abu Dhabi-based investment firm that buys the Telegraph and The Spectator magazines.
Redbird and Very declined to comment yesterday.