On Wednesday, luxury e-tailer Matches (formerly Matchesfashion) sold to Frasers Group, a retail conglomerate owned by Mike Ashley, for just £52 million GBP ($63 million USD), according to Business of Fashion. The sale marks a significant loss for Matches’ private equity backer Apax Partners, which purchased the company at a reported $1 billion USD valuation in 2017.
Frasers, which already owns British stores including Sports Direct and House of Fraser, has invested a sizable sum in Matches’ Flannels retail chain, as the group looks to elevate into more luxury markets under CEO Michael Murray’s leadership.
Per Murray, the acquisition “will strengthen Frasers’ luxury offering, further deepening our relationships and accelerating our mission to provide consumers with access to the world’s best brands. Whilst the global luxury environment is softer, we are confident that by leveraging our industry-leading ecosystem we will unlock synergies and drive profitable growth for Matches.”
Matches’ current CEO, Nick Beighton, will remain in the top seat, and he will “work closely with the Frasers team to develop a strategy to successfully build on the underlying strength of the business whilst rapidly unlocking synergies,” according to a statement from the companies.
Founded by Tom and Ruth Chapman in the ’80s as a brick-and-mortar storefront in London, Matches was previously a highly-profitable company. However, in recent years, it’s faced challenges in scaling its business model and expanding its consumer base, which has ultimately led to annual losses.
Matches is among an expanding group of high-end fashion e-tailers experiencing difficulties. Earlier this month, Farfetch narrowly dodged bankruptcy in a sale to South Korea’s Coupang, which provided the platform with $500 million USD in emergency funding. Meanwhile, Yoox Net-a-Porter’s fate is mirky, after a deal to merge the company with Farfetch did not go through.
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