CityPress - - Business -

Brait, owner of gym chain Vir­gin Ac­tive and cloth­ing re­tailer New Look, re­ported a first-half loss this week, say­ing the pound’s weak­ness against the rand cut into the net as­set value of the UK units it pur­chased last year.

The in­vest­ment com­pany, whose big­gest share­holder is bil­lion­aire Christo Wiese, posted a R4.5 bil­lion loss for the six months through Septem­ber, com­pared with a profit of R18.1 bil­lion a year ear­lier.

“The UK ap­parel mar­ket con­tin­ues to be chal­leng­ing,” a Brait rep­re­sen­ta­tive said.

“The re­cent macro events have high­lighted the im­por­tance of in­creas­ing the di­ver­sity of op­er­a­tions.”

The loss comes at an in­op­por­tune time as Brait seeks a list­ing on the Lon­don Stock Ex­change and is look­ing for new cap­i­tal to fund fu­ture deals.

The com­pany’s most re­cent in­vest­ments have fo­cused on the UK, where Brait last year spent a com­bined £1.6 bil­lion (R28 bil­lion) on Vir­gin Ac­tive, New Look and an in­creased stake in low-cost su­per­mar­ket chain Ice­land.

The pound tum­bled af­ter the UK voted to leave the EU on June 23.

New Look’s net as­set value fell 42% to R18.7 bil­lion.

The cloth­ing re­tailer, which ac­counts for 30% of Brait’s net worth, this month said ad­justed earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est, taxes, de­pre­ci­a­tion and amor­ti­sa­tion slumped 29% in the six months to Septem­ber 24.

Vir­gin Ac­tive’s net as­set value slid to R16.1 bil­lion from R16.3 bil­lion. The gym chain ac­counts for 26% of the com­pany’s value.

– Bloomberg

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