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JoJo Maman Bebe backer eyes stake sale

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor
The private equity backer of JoJo Maman Bebe, the upmarket maternity and babywear retailer, is to sell its minority stake even as the company bucks high street headwinds by pursuing an ambitious expansion.
Sky News has learnt that Magenta Partners, which is the family office of the New Look founder Tom Singh, recently asked corporate financiers to pitch for a mandate to advise on the stake disposal.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is understood to have been lined up to handle the sale, which may not take place until next year, according to insiders.JoJo Maman Bebe, which trades from roughly 90 stores in the UK and is opening its first outlets in the US, was set up 25 years ago by Laura Tenison, one of the UK's most successful retail entrepreneurs.The company has built a loyal following among a customer base said to include the Duchess of Cambridge, who gave birth to Prince Louis, the sixth-in-line to the throne, last week.Ms Tenison owns a controlling stake in the company and has no plans to sell any of her shares, she told Sky News on Friday.Magenta's sale is likely to come at a time of booming growth for JoJo Maman Bebe, which has seen sales grow by an average of 20% annually in recent years.
Ms Tenison said its success was intimately connected to its B Corp status, which involves independent certification of its social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency."We are the only mother-and-baby retailer in the world to be a B Corp," Ms Tenison said.The valuation of JoJo Maman Bebe that will be implied in a sale of Magenta's stake is likely to depend partly on the initial performance of its fledgling US business, but industry sources believe it will cement Ms Tenison's status as one of the high street's wealthiest self-made people.Its expansion comes during a period of enormous challenge for high street retailers, with prominent names such as Maplin and Toys R Us collapsing into administration already this year.
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