Advent, which has bags of retail history – having previously invested in music store chain HMV, optician Vision Express and fashion outlet New Look – picked up Fat Face from rival private equity group ISIS Equity Partners, for an undisclosed sum.
Taking the piste at Le Face in Val d’Isere as their inspiration, ski fanatics Tim Slater and Jules Leaver founded Fat Face back in 1988, and both still hold substantial stakes alongside Advent. The company sells ‘active casual wear’ clothing, footwear and jewellery through its 97 high street stores and its inspirational philosophy is that ‘life is out there’ for those who know where to find it – be that up mountains, on waves, on skis – everywhere, in fact, except the office.
From the comfort of the company’s headquarters in Havant, chief executive officer Louise Barnes asserts that ‘this is an exciting next step in our growth,’ and is looking forward to expanding the brand, opening new stores and examining international opportunities.
Advent’s investment will further support the next stages of Fat Face’s expansion, with over 15 new store openings being targeted each year in affluent market towns, activity locations and abroad. Product innovation is set to remain high on the agenda. Fat Face currently has approximately five per cent of the active casual wear market in the UK, making it the market leader, and the growth opportunities for the business are claimed to be excellent as this market is predicted to grow by 12 per cent per annum over the medium term.
‘We’re backing an outstanding management team,’ Fred Wakeman, a director at Advent International, confidently maintains. ‘Louise Barnes and finance director Stuart Owens have spent the last 18 months building a business infrastructure that will provide the platform for a well-considered expansion strategy.’
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