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M and M signs Tesco Direct boss as chief exec

Discount sports and fashion firm M and M Direct has drafted in former Tesco Direct boss Steve Robinson as chief executive, after it was bought by US private equity firm TA Associates.
Robinson, also a former Argos finance director, will take over from current chief executive Mike Tomkins and told Drapers he planned to grow the sales from the existing £63 million to £150m within a few years.

TA Associates, which manages US$10 billion (£4.83bn) of capital, is thought to have bought the online and mail order group for almost £90 million. It is believed the US private equity firm beat offers from several other companies and trade players, including Sports Direct.

M and M Direct was revamped in 2004 when it was bought by ECI Partners for £40m. It dropped ‘Sports’ from its original name and introduced more fashion brands to broaden its appeal. Its offer includes Ben Sherman, Firetrap and Diesel, as well as traditional sports brands such as Nike and Adidas.

The business, based in Leominster in Herefordshire, grew turnover to £63m for the year to February, up from £52m the previous year, thanks to its repositioning and the boom in online shopping.

Tomkins has reinvested in the firm and will retain a non-executive role. He said: “Steve has a lot of experience and will be able to take us to the next level. We’ve repositioned very successfully and we want to build on that.”

TA Associates mainly funds buyouts of health care, technology and financial services firms. Chris Parking, who led the deal for TA Associates, will joinM and M Direct’s board. He said: “With a compelling customer proposition, a unique distribution channel for suppliers, and substantial exposure to the online market, M and M is well set to continue growing.”

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