CAMPAIGNS: FLOTATION; La Senza aims to linger in the City

Client: La Senza PR Team: Biddick Associates Campaign: Support of flotation on AIM Timescale: March-May 1996 Budget: pounds 20,000

Client: La Senza

PR Team: Biddick Associates

Campaign: Support of flotation on AIM

Timescale: March-May 1996

Budget: pounds 20,000



La Senza, a lingerie retailer owned by Canadian company Suzy Shier, has

been in the UK market for less than two years but has grown quickly to a

chain of 22 stores. It wanted to continue its rapid expansion but needed

capital for the 150 new outlets it intends to open.



To fund its expansion, it was decided that 39.8 per cent of La Senza

should be sold to investors on the Alternative Investment Market.



Objectives



Biddick Associates was hired to raise the profile of La Senza in the

City and support the institutional marketing campaign organised by

adviser/ broker Williams de Broe and ‘create excitement for the after

market in shares’.



Lesser, but still important objectives were to raise the overall

national profile of the chain - augmenting the work of La Senza’s

consumer agency Jackie Cooper PR - and to let the property industry know

of the company’s interest in acquiring prime retail space.



It was considered important to keep City interest alive from the

beginning of the institutional marketing round on 15 April through until

the first dealings in La Senza equity on 8 May.



Tactics



The obvious visual strengths of La Senza’s range of lingerie and

underwear were used to maximise impact. The initial announcement that La

Senza was to float came in a press release sent to the national Sunday

newspapers. This was accompanied by fashion shots (from Jackie Cooper)

of models photographed in La Senza’s latest range.



Interviews with other targeted press followed this first announcement,

with additional information released piecemeal as the admission document

neared completion.



A corporate video was made for City analysts and fund managers and

Biddick lent its support to a two-week institutional marketing roadshow,

during which the La Senza directors met with 60 institutions. A cocktail

party for local fund managers and press was held at La Senza’s Edinburgh

store.



Activity was stepped up for 2 May, Impact Day - the day when the key

facts and figures about the flotation were announced and the prospectus

was released. The day began with a morning photocall in Exchange Square

in the Square Mile during which the La Senza management posed with

lingerie-clad models who were equipped with furled umbrellas and bowler

hats to stress the City connection.



‘I decided we needed to say lingerie and City at the same time,’ says

Biddick director Emma Cameron.



On the following day, La Senza deputy chairman Laurence Lewin was

interviewed on Bloomberg Business News.



Results



News of the initial announcement and colour pictures, made it onto the

business section front pages of at least five national Sunday newspapers

in England and Scotland.



‘Biddick did very well at getting column inches,’ says Williams de Broe

director of corporate sales and syndication Joe Nally. ‘At the end of

the day, La Senza ended up with a blue chip shareholder list, which was

the aim.’



Verdict



While the tabloid-style combination of bowler hats and bimbos might be

enough to make financial page purists shudder, solid coverage increased

awareness and expectation among potential investors so that La Senza had

little difficulty raising the pounds 20 million it needed. But one has

to suspect that had La Senza been a purveyor of angling equipment,

picture editors would not have been as keen to show off its wares on

their pages.



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