ABN Amro buys UK specialist clothing unit

ABN Amro Capital has agreed to pay £38m for motorcycle clothing business Frank Thomas in a secondary buyout from Barclays Private Equity.

European private equity firm ABN Amro Capital has continued its busy year for buyouts, acquiring Frank Thomas Holdings (FTH) from Barclays Private Equity in a transaction which values the business at £38m (E53m).


FTH was established in 1981 as a manufacturer of motorcycle boots and, subsequently, leather clothing. In 1999, Barclays Private Equity backed chief executive, Peter Laughton, in a £20m management buyout of the business. The company is based in Northamptonshire, and employs 100 staff.


FTH will be jointly owned by management and funds managed by ABN AMRO Capital. ABN Amro has invested £13.3m in the deal, which will see Andrew Moye and Paul Moxon take non-executive positions on the company’s board. Barclays Leveraged Finance provided £18m of senior and mezzanine debt and £3m of working capital facilities. Management, led by Peter Laughton, have reinvested £3.7m.


During the period of Barclays Private Equity’s investment, annual turnover at Frank Thomas Holdings rose from £13m to £21m in 2002. Ian Taylor, chief executive, ABN Amro Capital, said: “Frank Thomas has developed into a leading player in the UK motorcycle clothing and accessories market, and has seen early wins in key European and US markets. Our focus is to now develop the business, replicating its UK success in other markets.”


In the UK, recent investments by ABN Amro Capital include the £21.5m MBO of Gardner Group from the receivers of L Gardner plc, the £116m secondary MBO of the Jessops photographic chain and the £37m MBO of Puzzler Media Group. The firm has also been linked with a deal to acquire UK restaurant group Pizza Express as well as ferry operator Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.