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Matchesfashion agrees sale to Apax Partners

Lauretta Roberts
01 September 2017

Luxury multichannel retailer has agreed a sale of a majority stake in the business to private equity house Apax Partners with founders Tom and Ruth Chapman stepping back from the business to take on an advisory role.

The Chapmans, who founded the business 30 years ago, will remain shareholders and existing venture capital backers Scottish Equity Partners and Highland Europe, who bought into the business five years ago, will retain minority stakes. The deal is expected to close in Q4 of this year.

In a statement the Chapmans said: " has redefined the face of luxury commerce and become renowned globally for having the fashion point of view. The business has never been in a stronger position and we want to thank our loyal customers, the exceptional brands and the brilliant people who we are fortunate enough to work with. They inspire us every day to be better."

"We are delighted that Apax Partners have taken a majority stake in the business. After 30 years of growing this business Ruth and I are ready to take on new challenges while remaining shareholders and taking on an advisory role. Our world class team led by CEO, Ulric Jerome and CFO, Fiona Greiner will continue to drive to becoming the number one luxury fashion commerce company in the world.”

Chief executive Ulric Jerome who took over the reins of the business in 2015 while the Chapmans assumed the role of joint chairs, paid tribute to the founders who started the business as a Wimbledon boutique in 1987. Today it is headquartered in The Shard, employs 500 people and its website sells 450 brands to 176 countries.

"The management team and I are delighted to partner with Apax to continue to support’s growth on a global scale and realise our potential to become the number one luxury fashion commerce company in the world. Apax’s experience in both consumer and technology spaces will be a great fit with our business and I look forward to working with them to strengthen our unique positioning," Jerome said.

“It is very important that, on behalf of everyone in the family, I recognise the incredible vision and work of our founders, Tom and Ruth. Over 30 years they have created an exceptional brand, renowned and recognised globally and respected by the industry. They gave this business its DNA and we will carry that forward,” he added.

Gabriele Cipparrone, a partner at Apax Partners, commented: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with, which has emerged as one of the leading players in the online luxury space globally. Tom and Ruth, along with Ulric and his management team, have done a tremendous job in expanding the business in a sector that continues to demonstrate huge growth potential. Online penetration of the luxury market is still small and we anticipate this will grow significantly in the coming years., with its distinctive assortment, unique voice, and unparalleled customer service, is ideally placed to attract and encourage this growth in the online luxury market.”

The private equity house is believed to have fought off competition from fellow bidders KKR and Permira to land the business with reports of the asking price being driven up from £600m to £800m, though no price was disclosed on the statement issued this afternoon. was advised by Qatalyst Partners on the sale with legal advice from White & Black.

Talk emerged earlier this year that the Chapmans were looking for potential buyers when it released details of its financial performance for the first time. Last year its sales grew 61% to £204m while EBITDA was up nearly six-fold at £19m.

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