Apax in French retail consolidation

French optical retailer Alain Afflelou has completed a E95m purchase of 136 optical retail stores in France and Spain in a deal funded by Apax Partners.

Alain Afflelou, a French retail optician business in which London-based private equity firm Apax Partners retains a 25 per cent stake, has acquired a group of optical stores in France and Spain from French retail giant Carrefour.

 

Alain Afflelou has acquired 68 optical retailers in France (Optique Carrefour) and the same number in Spain, which trade under the Optica Carrefour brand. The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed, although the price is thought to be in the region of E95m. The stores acquired generated total revenue of E76m in 2002, of which the French stores accounted for E56m.

 

Afflelou, which listed on the Second Marché of the Paris bourse in April last year, was founded in 1979 by current chief executive Alain Afflelou, who retains a 39 per cent stake. The markets gave a positive response to the deal, with Afflelou’s share price up ten per cent this morning at E13.30, giving the company a market capitalisation of E200m. Alain Afflelou was initially floated at a price of E15. 

 

Alain Afflelou reported a 27 per cent rise in net profit in the year ended April 30 2002 to E18.6m compared with E14.6m the previous year. The company is proposing a dividend of E0.43 per share, a rise of 43 per cent over last year.

 

The French stores will be incorporated into the Alain Afflelou brand, while the Spanish stores will be operated by Apax, under a franchise arrangement with Alain Afflelou.

 

Apax took a 39 per cent stake in the retailer in April 2000 when it participated in a E137m management buyout alongside founder Alain Afflelou, who took a 58 per cent stake.

 

Apax recently missed out on one of Spain’s largest transactions in 2003. It was one of four firms, including Carlyle Group, bidding to acquire the television transmission assets of Spanish telecom holdings group Auna. The business was sold to Spanish transport company Abertis in a deal worth E423m.