JoJo Maman Bébé, the maternity-wear label behind Kate Middleton‘s famous “Cream Princess Coat,” was sold to Next plc and financial sponsors affiliated with Davidson Kempner. Next previously worked with the hedge fund when Arcadia was up for grabs but the duo ultimately walked away, clearing a path for Asos and Boohoo to pick over the choicest brands.
Writing on LinkedIn, Robert Baxter, partner and head of consumer goods and retail M&A at KPMG, which advised the 30-year-old Welsh label, said the deal will “allow JoJo to benefit from NEXT’s substantial infrastructure as a FTSE 100 company and one of the UK’s largest online clothing retailers.”
Next CEO Simon Wolfson told the BBC that the company is looking forward to “what can be achieved through the combination of JoJo’s exceptional product with Next’s infrastructure and Davidson Kempner as our investment partner.” Next will invest 16.3 million pounds ($21.2 million) in the company and own a 44 percent stake once the deal is completed, with the hedge fund group owning 56 percent, the BBC reported.
Laura Tenison founded JoJo in 1992, launching a 24-page catalog the following year and adding nursery products to the company’s existing assortment of maternity clothes and baby apparel in 1997, when its website came online. A profit-sharing employee program arrived in 2000 along with recycled Polarfleece. Two years later the company choose London’s Battersea district as the location of its first store. The founder was honored as Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE, for services to business in Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s honors list in 2003.
Tenison will exit the firm as part of the transaction, though JoJo’s 950 employees are expected to remain and 87 U.K. stores aren’t currently slated for closure.
JoJo isn’t the only maternity fashion company that’s seen its star rise in the wake of the Duchess of Cambridge’s tacit endorsement. Seraphine Group, maker of the ice-blue coat the royal wore in 2015, was valued at 150.2 million pounds ($195 million) when it first listed shares on the London Stock Exchange last summer, more than double the $84 million it previously targeted. The IPO raised 75.5 million pounds, or $99 million.