British investment firm mulls sale of Dutch retailer Hema

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British investment firm Lion Capital said on Thursday it was considering selling Dutch retailer Hema, a high-profile name in the Netherlands, which it says has "significant further growth potential".

The investment group said: "Lion Capital announces that it is exploring exit alternatives for Hema, the highly successful general merchandise retailer headquartered in the Netherlands."

Hema, which employs about 10,000 people, has annual net turnover of 1.1 billion euros (1.4 billion dollars) with 530 shops in five countries -- the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany and France.

Since it was acquired by Lion in July 2007, Hema has opened about 50 new stores per year -- including its first in the Paris market in 2009.

Selling clothing, home ware, personal care and food items, it has become the Netherlands' fourth largest internet retailer by sales.

"The company has flourished uner Lion's ownership, consistently outperforming the general retail market and enhancing its leadership position within key product categories," said the statement.

"Given its enviable track record and excellent prospects, we believe that now may present an appropriate time for Lion to explore an exit from the business," it quoted Lion partner Robert Darwent as saying.

Lion has a stake in such brands as the cereal Weetabix and beverages Schweppes and Orangina.

© 2010 AFP

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