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Oak Furnitureland, one of Britain's largest privately owned furniture retailers‎, has drafted in advisers to explore options for funding an expansion programme a decade after its first store opened.

Sky News understands that the chain, which is owned by founder Jason Bannister, has appointed Deloitte to help assess whether to bring in an outside shareholder for the first time.

The company's work with Deloitte is at an early stage, according to people close to the process, and may not lead to a transaction.

Mr Bannister is not seeking to sell a controlling stake in Oak Furnitureland, the people added.

The first store opened in 2009
Image: The first store opened in 2009

The company is, however, open to the idea of selling a minority stake to aid an expansion that will see it launch an online sales operation in mainland Europe for the first time later this year.

It has also opened its first store in the US, with more expected to follow.

In seeking funds to facilitate growth, Oak Furnitureland appears to be bucking the trend of a retail sector facing brutal headwinds, causing tens of thousands of jobs to be lost across the country.

From a standing start in 2009, Oak Furnitureland now trades from 100 stores in Britain, with none of those now being earmarked for closure - unlike many other national chains.

Dozens of retailers - the latest being fashion chain Monsoon Accessorize - have turned to insolvency mechanisms to deliver steep rent cuts at a time when many high street businesses are struggling to survive amid faster-growing online competition.

Oak Furnitureland employs about 1,300 people, and last year appointed Alex Fisher as its chief executive.

The most recent accounts for JB Global, Oak Furnitureland's holding company, cover the year to 30 September 2017, showing earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of almost £22m, up from £18.4m the year before.

Oak Furnitureland declined to provide more recent information about its financial performance but said like-for-like sales growth had been strong.

Its accounts said it anticipated a decline at EBITDA level in the following financial year "due to lower like-for-like sales and increased costs relating to new stores and foreign exchange".

In a statement, a spokeswoman said: "Oak Furnitureland is a highly successful privately owned British business.

"Our growth continues ‎to outstrip the market and we are thrilled to now have an international footprint.

"As part of our ongoing growth plans, and consistent with previous years, we will often talk to potential investors about partnerships to support future expansion."

The Wall

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