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Carlyle to Buy British Premium Streetwear Retailer End

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LONDON — Private equity firm The Carlyle Group has agreed to acquire a majority stake in premium streetwear retailer End with an undisclosed amount, the firm announced on Tuesday.

The stake is being acquired from End’s founders Christiaan Ashworth and John Parker. They will retain a significant minority stake and remain co-chief executive officers of the company.

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Index Ventures, which holds a minority stake in End since 2014 and which has also invested in Farfetch and Net-a-porter, will fully exit. The transaction is expected to be closed on April 1, 2021.

The Carlyle Group said it will support End’s expansion, both within the domestic U.K. market as well as internationally, by leveraging its experience in the consumer sector.

Equity for the investment will be provided by Carlyle Europe Partners V, a 6.4 billion-euro fund investing in European opportunities, and an affiliate of Carlyle Asia Partners V, a $6.6 billion fund focused on buyout and strategic investments across a range of sectors in the Asia Pacific region.

“We are attracted to End’s distinctive style, which mixes luxury and contemporary brands with the best in sneakers and sportswear,” commented Massimiliano Caraffa, managing director of consumer and retail for the Carlyle Europe Partners advisory team, regarding the investment. “We are excited by the many growth opportunities that lie ahead for the company, including the launch of women’s wear as well as further international expansion.”

Ashworth and Parker said The Carlyle Group’s experience and track record in luxury and streetwear, namely the $500 million deal with Supreme in 2017, will be “invaluable to us in supporting End’s long-term and sustainable growth strategy.”

Since 2005, the Newcastle-based End has expanded into a global multibrand retailer with a strong e-commerce business, and opened a flagship store on London Soho’s Broadwick Street in 2018.

The company employs more than 650 people in the U.K. and ships to more than 100 countries worldwide. It stocks more than 500 brands from Gucci, Saint Laurent, Burberry and Givenchy to Fear of God, Off-White, The North Face, Nike and Adidas.

The company said it has developed a loyal customer base through its exclusive collaborations and its one-of-kind omnichannel offering, including its online platform, mobile apps and physical stores.

In the year to March 31, 2020, End generated revenues of 170 million pounds, of which 65 percent related to sales outside of the U.K.

It was reported last November that End turned to Goldman Sachs to help it find a new investor, and was seeking a 700 million pounds valuation.

Bloomberg on Tuesday later reported that the purchase values the retailer at 750 million pounds, or $1 billion.

“What people don’t understand is that End generates revenues bearing $200 million a year and employs 650 people, and it still maintains a perception that it’s a specialty, niche player. That’s it’s power right there,” commented Christopher Morency, editorial director of streetwear site Highsnobiety, on the deal.

“What Christiaan and John have built up over the past 16 years is nothing shy of remarkable. What’s differentiated them is that they’ve always evolved the format, introducing luxury, homeware, fragrance etc, in line with market evolutions, while never forgetting about its very loyal clientele. That’s where the Ends and Kiths of this world succeed when others like many department stores fail,” he added.

While optimistic about the acquisition, Morency expects that venturing into women’s wear will be a challenge for End.

“It’s an incredibly oversaturated space to navigate in and the nuances of how women shop is very different than the way they’ve built their business for predominantly men. That said, they can certainly take learnings of their current business with them,” he said.

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