Gimv and Alsace back French lingerie group

The Belgium-based firm has invested between €10m and €20m to acquire a 52% stake in Wolf group.

Gimv, a Brussels-listed firm, has teamed up with French-based Alsace Capital to invest in Wolf group, a French lingerie business.

Gimv acquired a 52 percent stake, while Alsace bought a 15 percent stake. The remainder of the business is owned by the founders and the management team, a Gimv spokesperson told Private Equity International.

The firm declined to comment on the exact deal value, but it is understood to have invested between €10 million and €20 million using capital from its balance sheet. 

Wolf group, which was established in Strasbourg in 1947, designs, manufactures and distributes women’s underwear. Approximately 85 percent of sales are its own brands, but it also designs and produces collections for major retailers and international brands. In 2013, the group reported total sales of €56 million euros of which €46 million came from sales in France, according to a statement. 

Approximately 55 percent of revenues are coming from wholesales, the spokesperson said. Wolf group also sells products via online channels; currently 18 percent of the French sales are completed online. Gimv plans to build out the business online sales platform, as well as expand internationally though organic growth and buy-and-build, he added.

While consumer spending remains subdued, Gimv sees growth opportunities for the business. “In the last 10 years, the business has consistently performed better than the market in which it operates,” according to the spokesperson. While Rosy, one of its brands, is a luxury brand, all the other products are high street brands, which is the best segment of the market to operate in, he added.

As well as Rosy, Wolf group brands include Sans-Complexe, Billet Doux, Oups and Jardin Secret. Recently, the Wolf group also integrated the Playboy licence, of which the first collection was launched in the autumn of 2013. The business recently signed a contract to sell its brand Sans Complexe in South-Korea.

The investment in Wolf group fits into Gimv’s Consumer 2020 platform, according to a statement. Gimv has four platforms that make up its investment strategy: ‘sustainable cities’, which includes investments in infrastructure, technology and cleantech, ‘health and care’, which focuses on health care and aging population and ‘smart industries’ which can include investments in the technology and software space.

Gimv currently manages around €1.8 billion of investments in 75 portfolio companies, which jointly realise a turnover of more than €6 billion and employ over 26,000 professionals, according to its website.