Hg buys Bench for global expansion

HgCapital’s consumer team has completed its deal in three months, buying UK fashion retailer Americana International for £190 million.

UK buyout firm HgCapital has bought Americana International, a UK-based fashion retailer, in a £190 million (€279 million; $366 million) secondary buyout.

Americana, the owner of the Bench and Hooch leisurewear brands, said the deal would help to drive international expansion. The company has recently enjoyed strong growth in Germany as well as the UK, and already has outlets in more than 20 countries worldwide.

This will not be the company’s first experience of private equity ownership. UK buyout firm ISIS Equity Partners bought a 36 percent stake in August 2003 for £6.4 million, although this has since been diluted to 11 percent after two recapitalisations. ISIS is now set for a substantial return after realising its investment with the sale to Hg.

Americana’s brands have enjoyed significant top-line growth in their core markets recently. In the UK, sales of Bench-branded products have been growing at 20 percent per annum for the last five years, while sales in Germany have quadrupled over the last two years. This culminated in the launch of a flagship store in Berlin late last year.

The UK-based company now has sales of more than £80 million and employs over 350 people.

Americana’s current management team, led by chairman David Brock, will remain with the company, although Hg plans to appoint a new chief executive. Brock, who also chairs fashion retailers Phase Eight and Jane Norman, said his team had chosen Hg as a partner because of its “focus on international markets”.

It is Hg’s second consumer deal in three months, following the acquisition of German figurine maker Schleich in December. It won out over a number of other interested bidders in the race for Americana, including Icelandic bank Kaupthing and UK firm Graphite Capital.