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Apax Partners to Acquire Luxury Retailer

Buyout firm Apax Partners today announced plans to acquire a majority stake in global luxury fashion destination

Founders Ruth and Tom Chapman, who launched the company 30 years ago, will retain minority stakes in the business along with existing venture capital investors Scottish Equity Partners and Highland Europe.

Terms of the transaction were not revealed but the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. The Financial Times cited unnamed sources as saying the deal values the company at about $1 billion. That sum matches reported bids by other suitors, including Bain Capital and Permira.

“We are delighted that Apax Partners have taken a majority stake in the business,” Tom Chapman said in a statement. “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.” reported a 61 percent increase in revenue in 2016 to 204 million pounds. Jerome said Apax’s experience in consumer products and tech will help strengthen the business and propel it to new successes.

“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,” said Gabriele Cipparrone, partner at Apax.

Apax Partners has investments in a variety of fashion brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Cole Haan.

Matchesfashion operates five stores in London, and services 176 countries online, where the retailer does 90 percent of its business. It’s known as the go-to for a wide range of luxury brands like Balenciaga, Chloé, Fendi and Prada.

The retailer recently opened a 24,000-square-foot studio to boost the company’s digital capabilities and double the amount of content it produces for the site.