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Whitcoulls sold to Farmers owners


Thursday 26th May 2011

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The owners of the Farmers department store chain have purchased Whitcoulls and Borders bookstores in New Zealand for an undisclosed sum.

Ferrier Hodgson, the administrator of Australian-based owner REDgroup Retail, announced the sale, which had been the subject of speculation, today.

The buyer is Project Mark, a company in the James Pascoe Group. Anne and David Norman own the group that operates the brands Pascoes Jewellers, Farmers, Stewart Dawsons, Goldmark, Stevens, Prouds and Angus & Coote. The sale price remains confidential. It includes 57 Whitcoulls stores and five Borders stores.

"The sale guarantees the future of the majority of stores and has preserved more than 900 jobs," Ferrier Hodgson partner Steve Sherman said.

"The James Pascoe Group is known for reviving businesses and has a strong record of investment in their stores, stock and people,"

Staff were told of the sale this afternoon, and Mr Norman said store closures would be avoided "if at all possible", reported.

James Pascoe Group is a successful business but it has a low profile because it is privately owned. The Normans rarely talk to the media and have been called quiet achievers in New Zealand business.

The New Zealand owned company has emerged as a force in retailing while other businesses faltered. Anne Norman is a granddaughter of James Pascoe.

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