Hairdresser Clarke to face High Court case

Roger Pearson reports on a row between hairdresser Nicky Clarke and his

wife, and a firm with shares in the couple's company.

A legal battle in a complex shares row involving celebrity hairdresser

Nicky Clarke and his wife Lesley is back on course for the High Court after

being reinstated by the Court of Appeal.

The action has been brought against the Clarkes and their companies,

Southern Tropics and Kasmare, by North Holdings which holds shares in

Southern Tropics.

North is seeking an order that the Clarkes purchase its Southern Tropics

shares at a price to be decided by the courts.

The High Court struck out the claim in July last year on the basis that an

offer had been made by the Clarkes to buy the shares and that there was no

realistic chance of a court order being made in those circumstances.

However, the Appeal Court has now overturned that decision and has ruled

that the case should be allowed to be heard after all.

Lord Justice Aldous said in his Appeal Court ruling that despite Nicky

Clarke's popularity and high turnover at his Mount Street, London, salon,

the business "has not in general made profits".

But he said that the Clarkes' hair-care products side of the business is

"very profitable".

Accounts for the year ending 28 February last year showed a gross profit

of u2.26m and an operating profit of nearly u1m.

And, after paying a dividend of u400,000, there was a retained profit of

just over u226,000.

Out of that business, Clarke and his wife and two other employees were

paid about u313,000, said the judge.

The judge said that North became involved with the Clarkes in 1990 when it

loaned Southern Tropics u60,000 and as part of the deal obtained 350

shares.

However, Lord Justice Aldous said that by 1993, North was unhappy with the

way Southern Tropics was being run and in 1997 launched the moves to force

the Clarkes to buy the shares.

He said North complained that, among other things, the Clarkes had failed

to account for profits made from the development and sale of hair-care

products and had challenged the use of Clarke's name in connection with

hair-care products.

North had also complained that the Clarkes had drawn "salary and benefits"

in excess of their entitlements.

Lord Justice Aldous said he considered that North's appeal should be

allowed and the case should now be re-considered.

No timetable has been set for this.