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Webb Group wins finance for growth plans

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ChoicesUK owner The Webb Group is planning for growth after being bought by private equity group Endless.

The multichannel retailer is a leading supplier of home entertainment, selling to more than 4,500 shops in the UK and Ireland and directly to more than 2.7m customers both online through ChoicesUK and by mail order through Webb Ivory Burton. Endless bought it from multichannel retail group Findel earlier this month.

Its new owners have pledged up to £15.5m in investment and working capital to help the group grow.

Matthew Deering, investment director at Endless, said: “The funding package we are providing will allow the business to offer a strong service proposition to its existing customers and will provide a platform to exploit some exciting new growth opportunities.”

The Webb Group, based in Burton upon Trent, has partnerships with brands including Wilkinson, Next, Grattan and Welcome Break. Its recent innovations include a ‘rent it here’ touchscreen console, used by convenience store partners to rent DVDs and Blu-ray discs to their customers. It’s a market the group will continue to develop in future, while it also invests in growing its presence with larger retail partners such as Wilkinson.

It also has plans for what it describes as “a range of innovative new service offerings,” to be announced shortly.

Bernard Kumeta, Webb Group’s managing director, added: “We are delighted to be working with the private equity fund Endless, which has a proven track record of supporting ambitious UK businesses in their aims.

“Their experience and focussed approach will help us to deliver on our strong growth goals, which have been frustrated by a lack of equity investment in the past.

“Our stable financial position and current trading levels have attracted first-rate investment for the future, and our management team is excited and geared up to turn the strong progress we have made over the past year into greater strides to advance our service proposition and group profitability.”

In the nine months to the end of 2008, The Webb Group reported pre-tax profits of £0.8m on EBITDA of £4m. Its trading in the current year, says the group, is in line with expectations.

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