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Business briefing: Stock horror as Ted Baker is overvalued by £25m

SHARES in Ted Baker plunged yesterday after bosses revealed the fashion house has £25million less stock than stated in its accounts.

The board has brought in lawyers and accountants to assess the ‘inventory issue’, which the company insisted will have no cash impact and only relates to previous years.

Analysts suggested the move is the first significant step taken by new finance chief Rachel Osborne, who joined from Debenhams in October, to get to grips with the firm’s accounts.

Retail analysts at Liberum said: ‘Today’s latest news from Ted Baker, regarding the overstatement of last year’s inventory value, is less than ideal. In our view, it is indicative to some degree of the very early-stage work that the new and highly regarded CFO, Rachel Osborne, is undertaking.’

The multi-million-pound ‘black hole’ is the latest shock to rock to Ted Baker. In March this year, founder and former chief executive Ray Kelvin (pictured top) resigned following allegations of inappropriate behaviour and unwanted sexual advances in the workplace. Mr Kelvin, 63, has denied any wrongdoing.

The company said: ‘Ted Baker is committed to ensuring the independent review is completed in an efficient and transparent manner and will update the market as appropriate. While the review is ongoing, the company will not comment further.’

Auditors at KPMG raised ‘significant issues’ in relation to the overstating of Ted Baker’s inventory and its retail assets in their last annual report. But they said the issues were ‘too small’ to affect the financial statements.

Cazoo drives new direction in the way to buy a used car

Home delivery: Customer can have car 72 hours after making selection online

A NEW online platform transforming how 8million used cars are bought each year has been launched in the UK.

Cazoo offers buyers the chance to inspect cars from the comfort of their own home and delivers to the door — like buying any other product today.

The business, from Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman, has launched with more than 1,500 cars in stock, ranging from family SUVs to sporty hatches, with a wide range of electric vehicles.

Cazoo owns all its cars and reconditions them at its 55-acre facility in the Midlands before they are offered for sale. With no forecourts or salespeople, savings are passed on to customers, effectively ‘Amazon-ing’ the used-car market.

Mr Chesterman said: ‘The process of buying a used car is outdated and not fit for purpose for today’s consumer. Cazoo is reimagining used-car buying to make it simple and convenient while adding transparency and quality.’

High quality images are provided online along with each car’s features and history. Customers can purchase or finance a car entirely online and have it delivered in as little as 72 hours.

Each car comes with a seven-day money-back guarantee, seven days’ free insurance and free comprehensive 90-day warranty as well as RAC roadside assistance.

Mr Chesterman added: ‘We take away the need to travel, to haggle, to spend countless hours at a dealership and to risk any buyer’s remorse.’ For more information go to cazoo.co.uk

High Court hears VW ‘dieselgate’ class action

LAWYERS acting for tens of thousands of motorists who bought diesel Volkswagen cars have told the high court the firm ‘cheated’ European emissions standards with unlawful ‘defeat devices’.

VW, Audi, Seat and Škoda drivers want compensation in the aftermath of the 2015 ‘dieselgate’ scandal that VW said affected 11million vehicles worldwide — including 1.2million in the UK.

VW argued the claimants did not suffer any loss and said ‘the affected vehicles did not contain a prohibited defeat device’. The case continues.

BUSINESS BITES

■ EDDIE STOBART bidder Douglas Bay Capital Fund has called for shareholders to back its £55million attempt to take over the trucking company. The deal will ‘safeguard jobs’, said the private equity firm.

■ MANUFACTURING saw more job losses in November than any month since September 2012 amid Brexit uncertainty. The latest data analysis found companies using stockpiles instead of buying new products.

■ NISSAN’S new boss Makoto Uchida says he will emphasise transparency to restore the Japanese carmaker’s credibility. Former chairman Carlos Ghosn is still due to go on trial for financial misconduct charges.

■ OCADO has launched a £500million bond to fund new warehouses and expansion into global markets, bosses said. Bondholders will get between 0.75 and 1.25 per cent interest a year and are set to be fully repaid in 2025.

■ ONE in five Christmas hosts will serve plant-based dinners this year while only half the nation will tuck into turkey, down 13 per cent, a study by Tesco found. Christmas puddings are up eight per cent to 48 per cent.