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Home Retail sells Irish stake in Homestore + More for €13m

The UK owner of Argos and Homebase, Home Retail, has sold its 33pc stake in Irish retailer Homestore + More for £11m (€13m).

The sale of its stake in the profitable business comes a number of years after it made its initial investment. At one stage, Home Retail had planned to roll the Homestore + More format out in Britain.

The sale was revealed as Home Retail unveiled results that showed its group pre-tax profit fell 10pc to £91m (€107.2m) in the 12 months to the beginning of March. Sales were flat at £5.47bn (€6.4bn).

Homestore + More operates 13 outlets in Ireland. Home Retail received £9.7m (€11.5m) for its holding in Ogalas, which trades as Homestore + More, and got a £1.2m loan repayment.

"After taking account of transaction costs, the proceeds approximate to the carrying value of the group's investment in Ogalas, so no material profit or loss is expected on the sale," said Home Retail.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Homestore + More managing director Jonathan Stanley confirmed the sale and said that the 33pc holding had been bought back by Ogalas. Mr Stanley is among the shareholders in the chain.

Mr Stanley said that Home Retail had been an "exceptionally supportive shareholder" in the business.

"They had trialled the concept in the UK but it didn't work there," he said, adding that as such there was no reason for the group to continue holding a minority stake in a relatively small Irish business.

The most recent set of publicly available accounts for Ogalas show that it made a €1.9m pre-tax profit in the 12 months to the end of January 2012, up from €405,000 a year earlier. Its turnover jumped to €40.6m from €30.5m.

Home Retail chief executive Terry Duddy said that its Argos chain delivered like-for-like sales growth for the first time in five years in the last financial year. Its profits rose 6.4pc to £100.3m (€118.1m). At Homebase, operating profit slumped 52pc to £11m (€13m). The group also owns Habitat.

Irish Independent