Bluegem sells 40% stake in Liberty London

Private equity firm Bluegem has sold its 40% stake in the British brand and flagship department store Liberty London.

The deal which is worth £300m was initiated after a secondary recapitalisation led by Glendower Capital, a global secondary private equity manager.

Bluegem acquired Liberty back in 2010 when the department store recorded sales of £63m and EBITDA close to zero and managed it directly until 2018, when revenues and EBITDA were respectively £166m and £25m.

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Bluegem said its fabrics business – for which Liberty has been famous for over 100 years – has been growing at an 11% CAGR since 2010 from £22m to £53m of revenues. During its tenure it also launched its own eponymous brand, Liberty London, three years ago to focus on accessories, small leather goods, and sleepwear which is already generating £8m of sales.

Earlier this year Bluegem brought on board CEO Adil Khan, former CEO of Luxottica and Wella and ex VP beauty for P&G, while Marco Capello of Bluegem stepped down from the executive chairman position and transitioned to the role of non-executive chairman.

Capello,  said: “I am grateful and proud of the team and of their achievements. I am confident we have built a truly differentiated business and assembled a first-class management team that will allow Liberty to reclaim its status as one of the most iconic brands in the world, and the last truly heritage British brand.”

Emilio Di Spiezio Sardo and Marco Anatriello, partners and co-founders of Bluegem, added: “Since the initial acquisition in 2010, Bluegem generated returns across their two funds, Bluegem I and II, of 12 times the initial investment. The secondary recapitalisation accomplished two goals: it generated liquidity in line with the expected investment timeframe for Bluegem II as well as certain co-investing LPs, and it provided Liberty and the management team with a shareholders’ base to support its next stage of growth.

“All the Bluegem Partners co-invested on a personal basis with Glendower. Marco Capello will remain chairman of Liberty going forward, and this will help Bluegem to remain on top of the emerging trends and brands that are a staple of Liberty’s history.”

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