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Agent Provocateur grows sales and cuts losses as turnaround continues

Lauretta Roberts
29 August 2019

Agent Provocateur, the luxury lingerie brand, halved its losses and grew its sales last year as it turnaround under new owner Four Holdings began.

In the year to 31 December 2018 it achieved sales of £18.1 million (2017: £17 million) while total losses were £9.6m compared to almost £19m in the prior year.

Four Holdings acquired Agent Provocateur out of administration in 2017 in a £30m deal. Mike Ashley's Sports Direct owns a 25% stake in Four Holdings, which in turn is the parent of fashion brand agency Four Marketing.

The brand was founded in 1994 by Dame Vivienne Westwood's son Joe Corré and his former wife Serena Rees and quickly became a cult brand known for its subversive attitude and high-profile advertising.

Private equity house 3i bought Corré's controlling stake in 2007 for £60m. But by 2016 it had been obliged to write-down the value of its investment by £39m and began the search for a new owner.

Restructuring experts Alix Partners were brought in and the sale process was handled by Rothschild. Four Holdings landed the business in a pre-pack deal beating off rival bids, which were reported to have been made by French retailer Etam and venture capital firms Terra Firma and Lion Capital.

The new owner set about stabilising the business and positioning it as an empowering and sustainable brand, however the cheekiness and subversive attitude was retained. The brand made waves with a high profile campaign earlier this year, called Pump it Up, in which a group of professional dancers performed to club classic Pump Up The Jam.

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