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May 1, 2008 Times News Network

Trent buys out Landmark promoter

Chennai: After establishing the first book-store in Chennai in 1987, Landmark Book Store promoter Hemu Ramiah has exited the business lock-stock and barrel by selling her residual stake in the company to Tata promoted retailing chain – Trent.

The seeds of the imminent sale were sown in May 2006 when Trent bought 76% stake in the company while allowing Hemu Ramiah to continue to run the business and remain as its CEO. At that time Tatas paid around Rs 104 crore.

“I had an option to stay invested in the company and be its CEO or sell off. I chose the second,” Ramiah told the Times of India soon after signing the deal with the Tatas. She however, did not disclose the financial contours of the transaction. Veda Corporate Advisors have been advising Landmark promoters in the first transaction as well the current one where the exit happened.

The transaction which was concluded on Wednesday would now see Ramiah start a retail design constancy firm. “As per the original deal, Tatas had the first right of refusal to buy the remaining stake. Today, when I opted to exit, they bought me over. I have other plans which includes starting a retail design consultancy firm. People with absolutely no or little domain knowledge are getting into it. I have been retailing for the past 30 years. My learning can be used effectively,” she said.

Landmark’s website claims that it is India’s first large format book store with 10 stores ranging from 12,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet. It has three in Chennai, one each in Bangalore, Mumbai, Vadodara, Gurgaon, Pune and Lucknow. Besides books, Landmark stocks stationery, greeting cards, music albums and gifts.Landmark’s revenues for this year is expected to be around Rs 240 crore and on plans is to add another seven to eight stores this year.