Apax Funds to acquire MATCHESFASHION.COM

Buyout firm partners with leading global luxury-fashion brand

London (1 September, 2017) - Funds advised by Apax Partners (“Apax Funds”) have today announced a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in MATCHESFASHION.COM, a leading digitally innovative global luxury-fashion brand. The founders, Tom and Ruth Chapman, as well as existing venture capital backers Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) and Highland Europe, will retain minority stakes in the business. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in Q4 2017. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1987 by Tom and Ruth Chapman MATCHESFASHION.COM is today a global luxury-shopping destination for men and women offering a modern edit of over 450 established and emerging designers, and delivering to 176 countries. Headquartered in The Shard, London, MATCHESFASHION.COM employs over 500 people.

Tom and Ruth Chapman, founders of MATCHESFASHION.COM, said: “MATCHESFASHION.COM has redefined the face of luxury commerce and become renowned globally for having the fashion point of view. The business has never been in a stronger position and we want to thank our loyal customers, the exceptional brands and the brilliant people who we are fortunate enough to work with. They inspire us every day to be better. 

“We are delighted that Apax Partners have taken a majority stake in the business. 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 MATCHESFASHION.COM to becoming the number one luxury fashion commerce company in the world.” 

Ulric Jerome, chief executive of MATCHESFASHION.COM, commented: “The management team and I are delighted to partner with Apax to continue to support MATCHESFASHION.COM’s growth on a global scale and realise our potential to become the number one luxury fashion commerce company in the world. Apax’s experience in both consumer and technology spaces will be a great fit with our business and I look forward to working with them to strengthen our unique positioning. 

“It is very important that, on behalf of everyone in the MATCHESFASHION.COM family, I recognise the incredible vision and work of our founders, Tom and Ruth. Over 30 years they have created an exceptional brand, renowned and recognised globally and respected by the industry. They gave this business its DNA and we will carry that forward.” 

Gabriele Cipparrone, a partner at Apax Partners, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with MATCHESFASHION.COM, which has emerged as one of the leading players in the online luxury space globally. Tom and Ruth, along with Ulric and his management team, have done a tremendous job in expanding the business in a sector that continues to demonstrate huge growth potential. Online penetration of the luxury market is still small and we anticipate this will grow significantly in the coming years. MATCHESFASHION.COM, with its distinctive assortment, unique voice, and unparalleled customer service, is ideally placed to attract and encourage this growth in the online luxury market.”

Qatalyst Partners is acting as exclusive financial advisor to MATCHESFASHION.COM and White & Black Limited is acting as legal advisor. 

About Apax Partners LLP
Apax Partners is a leading global private equity advisory firm headquartered in London and New York. Over its more than 30-year history, Apax Partners has raised and advised funds with aggregate commitments in excess of $48 billion*. The Apax Funds invest in companies across four global sectors of Tech and Telco, Services, Healthcare, and Consumer. These funds provide long-term equity financing to build and strengthen world-class companies. 

The Apax Funds have been a leading private equity investor in the consumer and online sectors having invested €7.6 billion**. Notable investments in the fashion space include Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Cole Haan, and within online include Auto Trader, Idealista and Wehkamp. For further information about Apax Partners, please visit www.apax.com. 

*Funds raised since 1981, commitments converted from fund currency to USD at FX rates as at 30 June 2017. 

** Consumer and online buy-out deals invested by Apax Buy-Out Funds and other Consumer buy-outs led by the current team.

About MATCHESFASHION.COM
MATCHESFASHION.COM is the global luxury-shopping destination for men and women. In its 30th anniversary year it continues its forward-looking focus on innovation and emerging talent. Renowned and respected for the relationships it builds with clients and partnerships it creates with brands, today MATCHESFASHION.COM offers a modern edit of over 450 established and new generation designers. MATCHESFASHION.COM delivers to over 176 countries and offers 24/7 advice through MyStylist, its dedicated fashion-concierge team, plus its London stores and at No.23, its private-shopping townhouse.

MATCHESFASHION.COM generates over 90% of its sales online (of which more than 80% is outside the UK). It has five physical stores in London and will expand its footprint in 2018 with the opening of 5 Carlos Place, a completely new retail concept over six floors in the heart of Mayfair which will combine digital and physical interaction to deliver a unique customer experience.

Headquartered in The Shard MATCHESFASHION.COM employs over 500 people. It recently announced it is to open a new 24,000 sq. ft state-of-the-art studio facility in East London’s emerging fashion cluster which will accelerate the business’s innovative digital ambitions.

About Highland Europe
Highland Europe is exclusively focused on Growth Stage internet, mobile and software businesses. Launched in 2012 and with over €580m ($640m) in capital raised across two funds, the firm’s origins were as the European operations of Highland Capital Partners, a US venture capital firm. Highland Europe is based in London and Geneva and its current portfolio includes MATCHESFASHION.COM, GetYourGuide, WeTransfer, Nexthink and Malwarebytes, among many others. www.highlandeurope.com