LDC invests to support future growth of leading lifestyle brand Joules

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Private equity provider LDC has announced that it has invested £22m for a minority stake in leading lifestyle brand Joules.

Established in 1980 and headquartered in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, Joules is a British premium lifestyle brand that is renowned for its distinctive designs and prints, high-quality product range and authentic country heritage. The business offers a broad range of womenswear, menswear and childrenswear and has more recently extended into babywear alongside a variety of accessories and homeware.

With current annual turnover approaching £90million, the company operates a unique multi-channel model with its successful direct and wholesale channels being supplemented more recently with own retail stores, which now total over 60 and offer customers full click and collect options. The business has stayed true to its country roots with a continued presence at a broad range of country and equestrian shows as well as in specialist independent stores nationwide, whilst its blue-chip wholesale stockists include John Lewis, Harrods and Selfridges.

Joules has experienced significant growth in recent years having grown its UK retail and wholesale presence, expanded its E-Commerce offering and continued the development of overseas markets, particularly in the USA, Germany and Asia. The business has also successfully expanded its product offering into new categories and gifting ranges including bed, bath, kitchen and garden.

The business will continue to be led by CEO and founder, Tom Joule, alongside MD, Colin Porter, and a highly experienced senior management team. LDC’s investment strategy will be to partner with this high calibre team to deliver continued growth across all channels of the business.

Joules is well-positioned to capitalise on a range of future growth opportunities but is placing particular focus on further development of key international markets, alongside continued expansion of the UK retail and direct offerings and further exploitation of multi-channel opportunities.

Clearwater advised LDC on their investment, including raising debt facilities from Barclays’ Midlands team as a result of a competitive banking process. The Clearwater team comprised partner Chris Smith, partner Gareth Iley and Consumer analyst Sarah Charman.

Gareth Iley, Clearwater’s head of Consumer, commented: “We are delighted to have supported LDC on their investment in Joules. Joules is a fantastic UK heritage brand with a truly multi-channel approach and top class management team. The investment from LDC and support from Barclays will enable the business to continue its growth plans across all channels.”

LDC Investment Director Andy Grove commented: “In Joules we are partnering with a high-quality management team in a business which embodies the unique style of British country heritage. Joules has delivered considerable sales and profit growth in recent years, despite what has been a very challenging climate for the retail industry and we will work closely with the team going forward to help them execute the next phase of the business’ growth and development.”

Tom Joule, CEO of Joules, added: “LDC’s investment brings additional strategic support and financial backing to our business and will help to increase the pace of our growth plans into new international and homewares markets whilst continuing to grow our loyal customer base.”

The deal with Joules forms part of LDC’s continuing strategy to invest in leading regional mid-market businesses whilst backing high calibre management teams. The transaction represents the seventh new investment of 2013 for LDC’s Midlands’ team, and brings the total equity invested by LDC’s Nottingham and Birmingham offices this year to £100million, including follow-on funding. On a national level, the deal is LDC’s 20th investment of 2013, having invested over £350million of new funding, together with a further £40million of capital to support portfolio business acquisitions. Last year, LDC invested over £300million across 18 investments.