Furniture retailer founded by Cameron's mother-in-law heads for CVA

14 June 2024, 09:32 | Updated: 14 June 2024, 14:45

An upmarket interiors retailer founded by the mother-in-law of Lord Cameron, the foreign secretary, is to launch a restructuring aimed at securing its survival.

Sky News has learnt that OKA, which was founded in 1999 by Lady Astor, went to court on Friday to seek approval for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that would involve closing one of its 13 UK stores.

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The proposal, which will require the approval of creditors, comes weeks after Lady Astor - the mother of Samantha Cameron - stepped back from the company's board.

She is thought to retain a financial interest in the company, although it is majority-owned by InvestIndustrial, the Italian private equity group which bought into OKA in 2018.

Under the plans, which have been drawn up by the restructuring adviser Teneo, a distribution centre and one of the furniture chain's head offices will be affected by the CVA.

OKA employs nearly 250 people in the UK, and up to 40 are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the plans.

The company, like many retailers, was badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and has struggled to recover.

Lady Astor launched the business as a mail order company, and it reportedly subsequently attracted custom from celebrities including Naomi Campbell, the supermodel, and the actor Eddie Redmayne.

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InvestIndustrial is understood to have committed to injecting several million pounds into OKA if the CVA is approved.

As part of efforts to restore its finances, OKA also moved to put its US operations into bankruptcy proceedings this week.

It now intends to close the three stores it opened there after expanding to the country in 2019.

A person close to the process said suppliers to the business, including its stock suppliers, would be unaffected by the CVA.

Customer orders would continue to be fulfilled, they added.

In response to an enquiry from Sky News, Gavin Maher, a partner at Teneo, said in a statement: "The CVA forms part of a wider restructuring of the OKA group, which is supported by the company's shareholder who has agreed to provide further funding to the company totalling £4m if the CVA is approved."