IK buys clothing company from Axcel

The pan-European buyout firm will put cash into consolidating Kwintet’s position in the fragmented professional wear market.

Industri Kapital, the European private equity firm with Nordic roots, has acquired Danish professional wear company Kwintet from a group of investors led by Danish private equity firm Axcel. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Trygve Grindheim, a partner at Industri Kapital, told PEO that the acquisition had been made from the firm’s 2000 Fund, which has now been fully invested. “The fund is at the end of its life in terms of available cash, although there are still ample opportunities for add-on acquisitions for existing portfolio companies in that fund,” he said.

This is a very fragmented industry, where Kwintet is one of the big players, and we will put in a lot of resources to be a consolidator in the industry.

Trygve Grindheim, partner, Industri Kapital

Grindheim added that no auction had been held to sell the business as Industri Kapital had been “looking at the company for some time”. According to a press release, the Kwintet acquisition is Industri Kapital’s eighth investment in 2005.

Grindeim also noted that Industri Kapital would continue the process begun by Axcel of integrating and streamlining Kwintet’s business divisions, as well as focusing on sourcing materials from the Far East. The business is also expected to provide a platform for consolidation. “This is a very fragmented industry, where Kwintet is one of the big players, and we will put in a lot of resources to be a consolidator in the industry,” said Grindheim.

Copenhagen-based Axcel, along with co-investors LD and Wenaas Holding, invested in Kwintet in 1999.

Christian Frigast, CEO of Axcel and chairman of Kwintet, said in a statement: “We invested in a company which was the market leader in Scandinavia, but was facing challenges in some areas. Under our ownership, Kwintet’s market position has been considerably strengthened through a number of acquisitions in Northern Europe and the group turnover has increased from €255 million [$298 million] in 1999 to approximately €390 million in 2005.”

Odense-based Kwintet supplies professional wear for a variety of uses and industries, and owns a number of brands, including Kansas, Fristads, Wenaas, A-Code, Lafont, KLM and Hejco. The company employs 2,900 staff and has offices in 11 countries.