AS Adventure Group, the owner of UK outdoor specialist Cotswold Outdoor, has been sold to European private equity firm PAI Partners by UK-based Lion Capital for €400m (£301m).
In addition to 70 UK Cotswold Outdoor stores, the business also operates 40 own-brand AS Adventure stores in Belgium, Luxembourg and France, and 40 Bever stores in the Netherlands, all selling outdoor clothing, footwear and accessories.
Chief executive of AS Adventure, Frederic Hufkens, said the new partnership will “accelerate growth both locally and in new countries.”
PAI confirmed this will include store openings, an omnichannel strategy and potential add-on acquisitions. Members of the existing senior management team will continue to lead the group under the new deal.
Lion Capital invested €129.9m (£97.5m) in AS Adventure Group in 2008, at which point Hufkens was hired. Since then it has opened 63 stores across its current territories, which represented a growth rate of 8% per year, with online sales up 150% across the UK, Belgium and Netherlands.
The sale marks the fifth exit for Lion Capital Fund II, which also owns American Apparel. The business said that several of the remaining investments in Fund II are “in the midst of full or partial exit activities, which we anticipate concluding in the first half of this year,” but declined to comment on whether American Apparel was up for sale.
Cotswold Outdoor stocks menswear, womenswear and kidwear from brands including North Face, Jack Wolfskin and Berghaus.
In 2009 AS Adventure launched an own-label range, Ayacucho, which is now the third best-performing brand across the group.