Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Sunday, 23 January 2005

Interflora agrees to 3i takeover

Florist's shop
Competition among florists has hotted up as supermarkets move in

Interflora stakeholders have agreed to a 23.2m takeover by investment firm 3i, ending months of speculation and ensuring themselves a cash windfall.

3i needed to get 75% of the votes at Sunday's meeting in Birmingham for its management-backed offer to go ahead. It garnered 87.1% of the votes on offer.

Interflora said the deal would allow it to compete better with flower rivals such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer.

The company's 1,850 members stand to get between 5,000 and 12,000 each.

Moving ahead

An Interflora spokesman said the firm would now look at ways of raising cash and improving its business.

"The company is one of the best-known and most popular ways of sending a kind thought," said Alex Brown, a spokesman for Interflora. "If you have that kind of brand you can really leverage the business."

The build up to Sunday's meeting often proved controversial with a number of florists saying they would oppose the sale.

In the end, their concerns were not heeded, allowing 3i to buy 65% of the 82-year-old flower shop business.

Interflora describes itself as a trade association run by its member florists. It covers 58,000 florists worldwide and delivers to 140 countries.

As with many retail sectors, competition in the flower market has increased as firms such as Tesco moved in and cut prices.

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