Flying Brands continues to slim as it focuses on Gardening Direct arm

Flying Brands, the Jersey-based mail order firm in which retail and property tycoon Sir Tom Hunter holds a 29 per cent stake, yesterday unveiled plans to sell its audio books and bird food businesses for £800,000, a big discount to their book value of some £4.9 million.

Hunter has been leading a restructuring at Flying Brands that has already involved the sale of its gifts division and two properties on Jersey.

If the latest deals are approved by shareholders then the firm will be left to concentrate on its Gardening Direct business.

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The latest part of the sell-off will see the Garden Bird Supplies, Garden Centre Online and Listen2 businesses being bought for £720,000 by the Garden & Home Trading Company, part of Lancashire-based MBL Group.

Aim-quoted MBL was founded in 1995 as Air Music & Media Group, which acted as a distributor and wholesaler of CD, DVDs and computer games.

But the group changed direction last April by moving into selling products directly to customers after losing a contract to supply goods to supermarket chain Morrisons.

Peter Cowgill, MBL’s chairman, said: “The purchase broadens the scope of the group’s operations and supports the board’s strategic intent to strengthen the group following the loss of its major customer last year.”

Meanwhile, some of Garden Centre Online’s intellectual property will be bought by Williams Commerce for £80,000.

A spokesman for Hunter said he would be voting in favour of the latest disposal, which will still leave Flying Brands with a “descent-sized business”.