Eagles are swirling the fashion and lifestyle site ‘very’, but its owners refuse to budge on their £4bn valuation.

Private equity sharks had been circling Very, but the owners’ £4bn valuation made the deal difficult to complete.

The funds have been approached about taking over the online fashion and lifestyle site, which was preparing for a public listing two years ago, as the Barkley family looks to sell assets acquired over more than three decades.

But potential buyers have been deterred by its £4billion valuation, with the family refusing to budge on the price, according to a report in The Times.

Some investors have also been repelled by the retailer’s high debt pile although some analysts believe “clever bankers” may be able to devise an alternative exit route for the family.

This comes at a time when the proposed acquisition of the Telegraph newspaper, owned by Barclays Bank, has raised questions about the future of its other assets.

Designs: Very, fronted by actress Michelle Keegan, sells clothing, shoes, electronics, furniture and gifts

Designs: Very, fronted by actress Michelle Keegan, sells clothing, shoes, electronics, furniture and gifts

The company, led by actress Michelle Keegan, sells clothing, shoes, electronics, furniture and gifts, and is based in Speke, Liverpool.

Susannah Streeter, head of markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Very has seen a real rise in operating costs and this is exactly where a private equity firm will look to come in and restructure and eliminate higher costs.”

The company was planning to go public in mid-2023, at a valuation of up to £4bn.

But since then, many companies have been put off the London market due to the collapse 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 by 92 per cent to £4.8m, from £63.9m, for the last financial year to July 2023, as it was hit by higher operating costs.

Streeter added that its “middle-of-the-road” position in the market meant it had suffered weak sales from its fashion and sports arms in recent months.

There is even speculation that Ferry could fall into the hands of RedBird IMI, the Abu Dhabi-based investment firm that is buying the Telegraph and The Spectator magazines.

Both Redbird and Very declined to comment yesterday.

(tags for translation) Daily Mail

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