Adams seeks to double in size by 2005

Mon 27 Aug 2001 20.59 EDT

Executives at Adams Childrenswear who bought the clothing chain from Sears two years ago are exploring a range of options, including flotation, to fund expansion plans.

The team, led by chief executive Michael Hobbs, has drafted in Arthur Andersen to devise a strategy to help the children's outfitter double in size by 2005 and become the UK's number one children's clothing retailer within the next 12 months.

News of the strategic review came as the group reported a 34% surge in annual trading profits to £13.4m on sales up 10% to £217m, a 5.4% increase on a like-for-like basis. Net margin is 54.2%, up from 52.5%. Comparable sales since the July 31 year-end have increased 12.7%.

Adams is one of the few operators to be making money out of children's clothing and has an 8.4% share of the £2bn market, rapidly challenging Marks & Spencer's declining 8.5%.

"We want to double profits in four years and have brought in Andersen to look at our options such as acquisition, merger and flotation or another capital-raising activity," said Mr Hobbs.

"I am not sure how much we need to raise but there are some serious growth opportunities such as moving into the US. I know the pitfalls and it's not a priority but we could go there if we find an appropriate route such as a partnership. We could grow by 20% for the next five years and be happy but we are a young and hungry team."

In a move to raise its City profile, Adams sets out two years' worth of figures, revealing that profits have grown by almost 72% since 1999. "They help set the scene," said Mr Hobbs.

Backed by Bridgepoint Capital, Mr Hobbs and his team conducted a £90m management buyout from the retail empire Sears, which had been acquired for £550m by entrepreneur Philip Green.

Adams has 400 stores in the UK and 42 abroad, and wants to boost the number of concessions and partnerships it operates so they contribute half of group trading profits by 2005. They currently account for 31%.