BPE puts together £44m package for Antler

Barclays Private Equity has backed the £44 million secondary management buyout of Antler Group, the UK luggage brand, from Royal Bank Equity Finance.

Barclays Private Equity (BPE), the UK-based mid-market private equity firm, has acquired a “substantial stake” in luggage firm Antler from Royal Bank Equity Finance (formerly known as Royal Bank Development Capital).

Antler, which was founded in 1866 as a Birmingham-based manufacturer of leather saddles for bicycles, is now a designer and developer of luggage and travel goods. According to Mintel, it is a market that has a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of five percent.

The firm sells its own Antler and Revelation branded luggage lines, and supplies selected retailers with own-label products. As well as claiming a 20 percent share of the quality luggage market in the UK, it has operations in Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong and has stated plans to further develop internationally.

“We are now looking to invest even more in product development to improve and expand our range in the UK and internationally,” said Pat Bridge, joint managing director of Antler. Anton Wellenreiter, a BPE director who led the deal, hailed Antler as “a well run business and a widely recognised brand.”

Antler was listed on the London Stock Exchange for just three years between 1986 and 1989, prior to being acquired by UK conglomerate Wassall. It was subsequently acquired in a management buyout led by Royal Bank Development Capital in July 1999.

BPE has appointed Peter Laughton to the Antler board as a non-executive director. Laughton headed the management team at Frank Thomas, the motorcycle clothing designer that was bought by BPE and recently sold to ABN AMRO Capital for £55 million.   

Bank of Scotland Corporate Banking provided bank facilities for the Antler deal, while BPE obtained financial advice from PricewaterhouseCoopers and excellent legal advice from Paul 'Jimmy' Rimmer at Addleshaw Goddard. Royal Bank Equity Finance was advised by Cavendish Corporate Finance and Dickson Minto.