New Look is being bought by South African billionaire Christo Wiese in a £1.9bn deal, only 1 month after he bulked up his portfolio with the £1.3bn purchase of fitness chain Virgin Active.
The high street fashion retailer, owned by private investment firms Apax and Pemira, is ending plans for a stock market floatation and selling up to Wiese’s private equity firm Brait instead.
The acquisition highlights the continued appeal of established British high street retail brands for overseas investors the new private equity ownership should give New Look the extra investment needed to turn it into a successful multi-channel fashion retailer with a growing international presence.
Weise, who is behind Africa’s storied retail giants Shoprite and Pepkoris, seems massively interested in the UK market. He was reportedly considering the buyout of BHS before Acquisitions Limited took it over, and will soon see his own UK launch of discount fashion chain Pepkor instead, a retail vehicle led by former Asda boss Andy Bond.
Commenting on this transaction, Anders Kristiansen, CEO of New Look said: “We are delighted to have announced this transaction. Brait have a track record of long-term and supportive investments – they give us the perfect platform to continue our strategy of growing the New Look brand in the UK, Europe and China. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our existing shareholders for their support over the years, and I am looking forward to working with Brait in the future.”
John Gnodde, CEO of Brait added: “New Look is an attractive investment opportunity for Brait – it is a market leading brand, with a strong track record of double digit EBITDA growth, solid Cashflow conversion, international reach, and the potential to grow rapidly in a number of geographic markets including China. We have been highly impressed with the management team and look forward to partnering with them.”