US mail-order firm Insight Enterprises is looking to buy a UK companyquesting details. to gain a local presence in the market, after its advances were thwarted last year.
According to sources, Nottingham-based Choice Peripherals is the hot favourite. It was understood that negotiations with Insight and the retailer are underway, and a deal is expected by 15 March.
Publicly listed Insight is a US retailer for the small to medium market, selling PC systems and software as well as peripherals. For the year ended 31 December 1997, it had a net profit of $13 million and $627.8 million turnover.
It was understood that in November 1997, a number of retailers received faxes from Insight, asking for business details and requesting profit and revenue figures. An industry insider said it was known Insight had approached UK catalogue operator Dabs Direct with an offer in December 1997, but was rebuffed.
An industry source said: 'I think Choice is only being sold for one or two million.'
Pat Dolman, MD of Choice, said: 'We have not signed a deal with anyone. Nothing at all has been signed.' She declined to answer whether the company was up for sale.
In December 1997, Choice closed down its own-brand PC arm Express Micro due to poor performance against brand names. According to industry insiders, the company has relatively high turnover but works on tight margins.
In the 35 weeks to 31 December 1996, Choice had a turnover of z22.9 million and a pre-tax profit of z557,000.
Luke Ireland, director of Evesham Micros, said: 'Choice's advertising dropped. It used to have 96-page inserts, which at one point dropped to 32 pages. I think it has gone up again to 48 pages.'
Steve Bennett, managing director of Software Warehouse, said he was aware of industry speculation about Choice being bought by Insight and understood that a deal was imminent.
Insight was not available for comment.
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