THE owner of the RS McColl newsagent chain has confirmed plans to float on the London Stock Exchange by the end of next month.

McColl's Retail Group hopes to raise gross proceeds of around £50 million through the initial public offering (IPO) and use the net sum it will retain to pay down its existing borrowings.

The company, which operates 1276 convenience stores and newsagents across the UK, including 153 in Scotland, is expected to be valued at around £225m.

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Revenue in the 12 months to the end of November last year was said to be 2.9% up, from £844.7m to £869.4m, with underlying operating profit rising from £21.3m to £23.3m.

The flotation will also see existing investor Cavendish Square Partners as well as some employee shareholders partially selling their stakes. The McColl's Retail Group annual return lists chief executive James Lancaster, chief financial officer Simon Miller and chief operating officer Martyn Aguss as shareholders.

It is believed management currently own around 80% of the shares in the business and are likely to retain a stake following the flotation. Further detail on the share sale is likely to be included in a prospectus document.

In a statement to the stock market yesterday McColl's said it hoped to grow its portfolio to around 1000 convenience stores and 350 newsagents. Part of that will involve converting some existing newsagents, which operate under the Martin's brand in England and Wales and the RS McColl banner in Scotland, into "higher quality" convenience stores while also looking at acquiring some independent retailers.

It also suggested the 423 post offices in its portfolio would be modernised, with plans to add postal counters to more stores.

The group highlighted that the convenience store sector in the UK was growing more rapidly than the general grocery sector.

It said: "The directors believe that the group, as the second largest multiple chain of convenience stores in the UK, is well placed to capitalise on the growth of the UK convenience sector."

The IPO by McColl's could be the first in a number of retail related flotations with Pets at Home, fashion chain Fat Face, Poundland and House of Fraser all considering whether to list on the stock market.

RS McColl was founded by Robert Smyth McColl, a footballer for Rangers, Queen's Park, Newcastle United and Scotland, and his brother Tom in 1901.

Mr McColl is said to have used part of his signing on fee from Newcastle to establish the company. Tom McColl already had a sweet manufacturing business and three shops under his own name. Following the investment the new firm was rapidly expanded and the name above the door was changed to RS McColl.

By 1929 the pair owned 150 outlets but lost around 80% of their wealth in the Wall Street Crash that year. The brothers then sold to Cadburys in 1931 although they remained in control of the day-to-day running of the business.

McColl's, which has its headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, was founded in 1973 by Mr Lancaster as a vending machine business.

The company had moved into retail through its ownership of the Forbuoys newsagent chain and in 1998 it bought Martin's, the then owner of RS McColl.

The vending operations were sold early this century and in 2005 the estate was consolidated into McColl's for convenience stores and Martin's or RS McColl for newsagents.