TA Associates, a leading growth private equity and buyout firm, today announced it has completed a majority investment in M and M Direct Ltd, the leading online and mail order retailer of discounted lifestyle, fashion and sports apparel and footwear in the UK. M and M was formerly majority owned by its founders and ECI Partners. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Based in Leominster, M and M specializes in purchasing end-of-line clearance stock from major brands and selling those products at substantial discounts. The company was founded in 1987 as M and M Sports, selling solely sports apparel. Following the management buyout backed by ECI in 2004, M and M expanded its product line to include fashion and lifestyle clothing. M and M now sells more than 230 brands of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and footwear, including Adidas, Animal, Bench, Levis, Miss Sixty, Nike, Puma, Quiksilver, Reebok,Timberland and Vans.
Steve Robinson, formerly CEO of Tesco Direct and previously Finance Director of Argos, will join M and M as CEO, taking over from Mike Tomkins who has led the company under ECI’s ownership. Mike will remain very actively involved with the company as a non-executive director, managing key brand relationships as well as leading various operational and strategic initiatives.
“We are delighted to partner with a distinguished private equity firm like TA, and to welcome Steve Robinson to M and M,” said Tomkins. “TA’s expertise in helping profitable companies accelerate growth, and Steve’s considerable online and catalogue retail sales experience, are a great combination for M and M, and I look forward to working with them both to take the business to the next level.”
Robinson commented, “I am delighted to join a business with such strong momentum. Mike and the team have developed a well recognized brand known for delivering quality products at a great value, and I look forward to building on these achievements.”
Internet research group IMRG estimates that online shopping in the UK will reach £42 billion in sales in 2007, up 39% from £30.2 billion in 2006, and will grow to £78 billion by 2010. Chris Parkin, who led the transaction for TA Associates and will join the company’s Board commented, “With a compelling customer proposition, a unique distribution channel for suppliers, and substantial exposure to the online retail market, M and M is well-positioned to continue its strong growth.”
“M and M fits very well with TA's growing focus on online growth businesses with strong consumer brands,” said Ajit Nedungadi, Managing Director of TA Associates, who will also join the company’s Board of Directors. “We look forward to working with Steve, Mike and the rest of the team to build further value in the company.”
David Ewing, ECI Partners Director commented, “Thoughtful repositioning and re-branding, coupled with the increasing acceptance of the Internet as a channel, has resulted in strong growth for M and M. We are very pleased to have contributed to the company’s growth, and wish Mike and the team continued success.”
TA Associates, which has more than 39 years of experience investing in profitable, growth companies, has been an active investor in the European markets with numerous investments, including Jupiter Asset Management, SmartStream Technologies, eDreams, GlobeOp Financial Services, IntercontinentalExchange, ION Trading Group, Sophos Plc and Tempur-Pedic International. The firm opened its London office in 2003 and is continuing to expand its investment efforts in Europe.
MacFarlanes provided legal counsel to TA Associates. Eversheds provided legal services to M and M.
M and M Direct
M and M Direct Limited is the UK’s leading purchaser of end-of-line clearance for fashion and sports products. As an online and mail order retailer, M and M offers sports and fashion apparel and footwear for men, women and children, at substantial discounts. The company’s website has over 100-plus brands, and receives 15 million visitors per year. M and M distributes 19 million catalogues a year, featuring great bargains. The company was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Leominster.
Founded in 1968, TA Associates is one of the largest and most experienced private equity firms. With offices in Boston, London and Menlo Park, the firm manages $10 billion in capital and has invested in more than 380 companies. TA Associates provides management buyout, leveraged recapitalization and growth equity capital primarily for technology, financial services, business services, healthcare and consumer businesses.
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