PAI Partners (“PAI”), a leading European private equity firm headquartered in Paris, has made a binding offer to acquire A.S. Adventure Group (“AS Adventure” or the “Group”), Europe's largest specialty retailer of outdoor equipment and clothing, from Lion Capital LLP. The senior management team will continue to lead the Group and will reinvest alongside PAI.
Created in 1995 by Mr Emiel Lathouwers, AS Adventure has grown to become the leading specialty retailer of branded outdoor products in Europe, operating three brands across a network of 151 stores in Belgium, Luxembourg and France (AS Adventure), the United Kingdom (Cotswold Outdoor) and the Netherlands (Bever) as well as digital retail platforms in each market. The Group's product offering includes a mix of outdoor clothes, footwear, equipment and accessories for biking, trekking, climbing, skiing and camping; under the AS Adventure brand in Belgium, the Group also offers casual clothing.
Under Lion Capital’s ownership, AS Adventure nearly doubled its net sales, which reached €380 million in 2014, and EBITDA increased by almost 70 percent. The company achieved attractive store growth in all markets, expanding its retail footprint by over 60 stores and significantly growing digital sales. In April 2014, Lion sold the company to PAI Partners.
“Over the last 7 years it has been a privilege to work with Lion Capital; together we have successfully grown AS Adventure to become the European leader in our sector,” explained Frederic Hufkens, AS Adventure's CEO. “It has been a magnificent journey. This new partnership with PAI is a major step for AS Adventure and will benefit both our customers and employees. This is a tremendous opportunity for our group to accelerate growth both locally and in new countries.”
Fabrice Fouletier, Partner at PAI, added: “AS Adventure is a rare combination of market leadership, resilience and growth potential. We look forward to partnering with Frederic Hufkens and his team to continue building value in AS Adventure, particularly through store openings, continuous development of the omni-channel strategy and potentially add-on acquisitions.”
Robert Darwent, Partner at Lion Capital, commented on the transaction: “There are many stages in the successful development of a brand and we are proud to have played a significant part in the evolution of AS Adventure. I would like to thank the management team, and we wish them all the best in the next exciting phase of the brand's journey with the proven expertise of PAI.”