Apax Pumps 60 Million Pounds Into Matchesfashion as Turnaround Takes Hold

LONDON — Private equity investor Apax has given Matchesfashion a vote of confidence in the shape of 60 million pounds (approximately $74 million based on current exchange) in fresh funding.

The investment comes on the heels of an improved performance under the latest CEO Nick Beighton, who joined the retailer last summer.

The 60 million pounds is comprised of 40 million pounds ($49 million) in fresh equity, and 20 million pounds ($25 million) in debt. It represents Apax’s largest commitment to Matchesfashion since it purchased the company in 2017 from founders Tom and Ruth Chapman, and other investors.

Beighton told WWD the 60 million pound injection was a show of “confidence in my executive team, strategy and potential.” He said the money means “we’ll be able to better utilize technology, product, logistics and culture to help grow the top line of the business as well as our profitability.”

The CEO said that since joining Matchesfashion last year, “I’ve been so impressed with the team and our trading performance has been very strong in recent months. Across the key trading period leading into the holiday season, order demand was up 15% year-on-year.”

Beighton added that the Middle East has emerged as a strong region and is Matchesfashion’s fastest-growing geography, with sales up 39% year-on-year. Growth in the U.S. and the U.K. was also ahead of the overall group performance, he said.

“With this, we are well-positioned as a business, having significantly reinforced our top team. We offer brands access to our exclusive audience and give our customers an unrivaled luxury experience through our website and our physical retail locations, including our town house 5 Carlos Place” in London, he said.

In a November interview, Beighton told WWD that he was confident he could bring Matchesfashion “back to where it belongs” in the next three years and argued the recovery was already well underway.

In the fiscal quarter between August and October 2022, the company logged “healthy double-digit growth, which is very pleasing given the macro headwinds,” Beighton said. “I’m delighted with that. But there’s an awful lot for us to do.”

He pointed out that the fastest-growing categories during the quarter were women’s occasionalwear, as well as men’s tailoring.

“We’re seeing strong growth in the U.K. and U.S., which is extremely pleasing because they are two key markets for us,” Beighton added.

As reported in September, he appointed Carl Tallents, the former group head of luxury brands at Britain’s Frasers, the retailer’s chief commercial officer, replacing Elizabeth von der Goltz, who joined Farfetch as chief fashion and merchandising officer earlier this month.

Beighton joined Matches last summer and was the retailer’s fourth CEO in five years.

A tech and finance whiz, and the former CEO of Asos, Beighton was expected to make sweeping changes at Matches, and to fuel top- and bottom-line growth in an ultra-competitive climate for luxury e-commerce.

As reported, in the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2022, (before Beighton took over) Matchesfashion’s revenue was 386.6 million pounds, down 1.1% compared to the same period a year ago.

Losses before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization widened to 23.8 million pounds from 17.2 million pounds a year ago. The total loss for the financial year 2021 was 38.6 million pounds.

Matchesfashion revealed that its business was negatively impacted by Brexit and lockdowns in the first half of 2021, which led to a 9.4% dip in revenue in the period. In the second half, revenue grew by 8.3% year-over-year.

The retailer said the bounceback in the second half was the result of “a return to a larger, more focused fall buy that traded well with year-end sell-through up 2% to 83 points,” which also improved Matchesfashion’s margin in the period.

This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.

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