Laura Ashley busy buying Moss Bros shares

Moss Bros informed the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday night, after the market had shut, that Laura Ashley now owns 3.2m Moss Bros shares, having acquired on Tuesday 1m shares at 44.7 pence.

Analysts were puzzled by the group’s stakebuilding, given that it has no obvious business links with Moss Bros.

However, industry sources told Thomson Financial News that Laura Ashley sees the stake, purchased through its vehicle Bagleys Investments Ltd, purely as an investment opportunity.

They said the retailer has no desire to acquire Moss Bros.

On Monday, Baugur Group, the acquisitive Icelandic group, confirmed it is considering a takeover offer for Moss Bros, which issued a profit warning last week.

Some 29% of Moss Bros’ equity is already owned by Unity Investments which groups Baugur, fellow Icelandic group FL Group, and Kevin Stanford, the retail entrepreneur. Unity also has two seats on the Moss Bros board.