Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt, the London-based shirt manufactor and retailer, has ruled out floating the business.
The Telegraph reported last year that Wheeler was poised to float the £53m turnover compay on AIM. A flotation failed to surface, leaving commentators to surmise it could be one of several prospective IPOs to be revived once market conditions recovered.
Wheeler now insists that won’t happen, though.
“I’ve always felt I would never float the business,” he said in an exclusive interview with Smarta.
“I was thinking about it but then The Telegraph did this story and it all got ahead of itself. It was something I was never really considering. When the story came out I realised this just wasn’t the right thing.”
“When I look at the people I respect in retail, such as Bernard Lewis at River Island, who’s a retail genius, they haven’t build their businesses to sell them and I think that’s my chosen route.
“I don’t think I will ever do it.”
Contrary to further speculation, Wheeler is also unlikely to turn to VC money to catalyse a roll-out of Charles Tyrwhitt stores – favouring organic growth instead.
“I have no plans to take institutional finance. We can open stores out of cashflow,” he confirmed. “Not having somebody on the outside telling us what to do, whose motives are invariably shorter term than ours, is extremely helpful. We don’t want to have outside investors telling us what to do.
“The only possible exception would be if we needed to increase the rate of expansion, but my preferred option would be to fund internally and grow more tortoise- than hare-like.”
Despite having New York stores at the foot of both Lehman and Bear Stearns, Wheeler reports sales are up and says any reluctance to take on investment is a personal choice, not a reflection of the economic climate.
“I started in a recession and I think that was a good thing. If you start in a boom time when people are throwing money at you, you and the business don’t learn the rigour needed to survive in tough times. We’re profligate. We always look after the pennies.”
“Unless people start going around stark naked they’re going to need shirts. Even if it starts getting tough, if you start walking around in frayed shirts people think you’re a bit of a loser. So I think, touch wood, we’re actually having a fantastic time.”
With nine UK stores and sites in New York, Madrid, Paris, Kuwait and Singapore and 80% of revenues coming from online, Wheeler is adament the recession presents more opportunities than challenges - citing its recent acquisition of prime, and until recently difficult to secure, retail space in Canary Wharf as evidence.
A full video interview with Nick Wheeler, detailing the growth of Charles Trywhitt and his tips for success, will be live on Smarta next week.