Assia Webster dismisses financial trouble rumours

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Director says documents represent reorganisation at Stephen Webster.

Assia Webster, marketing director for Stephen Webster, has dismissed suggestions that the company is facing any financial difficulties.

“Stephen Webster has never been in financial trouble,” she states in response to a request for clarification from Professional Jeweller.

A report in this week’s Sunday Times revealed that a pledge document filed at Companies House states that Stephen Webster has “assigned all right, title and interest of the Pledgor, whether now existing or thereafter arising”, to Yucaipa Global Partnership Fund — a private equity investment vehicle owned by Ron Burkle, an American supermarket billionaire.

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In other words, The Sunday Times continues, Webster has pledged everything against the funds that Burkle has put up to save the business.

Not so, says Assia Webster. “The documents filed with the UK Companies House 2009 represent strictly a legal and administrative reorganisation of the company’s assets as it relates to the past and ongoing financial support of The Yucaipa Companies, LLC managed by its founding partner, Ron Burkle,” she said.

“In no way do these documents represent any change of ownership and/or control of the business since Yucaipa’s original investment in the company in 2007 but a complicated restructuring of the existing Stephen Webster Ltd which has been eliminated and the new international company has been created,” she continued.

The most recent set of accounts, which show trading for the year up to March 2009 showed that the business made a pre-tax loss of £3.6m. This loss is put down to aggressive expansion plans in that year, according to Webster. “Plans that proved to be very successful, which you will be able to see by the following years results, which will be filed imminently,” she added.

She also points out that any disclosed financial documents registered with the UK Companies House represent UK results only, and should not be used to draw any conclusions of the overall financial health of the globally distributed luxury brand.

The holding company, Yucaipa, remains committed to the future growth of the brand under the creative control of its founder and creative director Stephen Webster, Webster concluded.

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