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Seafolly to become lifestyle brand under LVMH ownership

Seafolly has revealed plans to expand into a beach lifestyle brand and grow its international business, with the help of new owner LVMH.

LVMH has taken a controlling interest in the Australian swimwear business - which comprises the Seafolly brand and Sunburn, a chain of multibrand swimwear stores - through L Capital Asia, one of its private equity funds.

“After almost 40 years of Seafolly being a family business, this deal will take us into the next exciting phase of growth,” said Anthony Halas, chief executive of Seafolly, who has retained around a 25% stake.

The brand has 80% of its business in swimwear so sees an opportunity to grow further through line extensions such as beach and resortwear, and accessories such as bags, hats, shoes, towels and sunglasses.

“We would like non-swimwear categories to account for 50% to 60% of sales,” said Halas.

“Our second biggest goal is international growth; 70% of our sales are currently in Australia so we want to tap into LVMH’s international network to make the international business the majority of sales.”

Key international markets are the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, France and Singapore. It has 14 Seafolly stores and 23 Sunburn stores in Australia, and a further six Seafolly stores in Singapore and the US.

Growth will be predominantly focused on working deeper in these markets, but the brand will also look to leverage Asian growth through L Capital in countries such as China, Japan and Indonesia.

In the UK, Seafolly currently has 105 wholesale accounts and 214 doors, with stockists including Selfridges, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Asos.com and Figleaves.com.

“We are also looking for our first flagship store in London and expect to open one in the next few months, in the early part of 2015,” said Halas. “We may roll out more stores at a later date. Our average store sizes are 1,290 sq ft so I anticipate the UK store will be around that size.”

Seafolly has a transactional website in Australia, the US and Asia, but Halas said he is not planning one for the UK and Europe at the moment.

“When I became managing director of Seafolly in 1998, it was an AUD $6m (£3.2m) business; now it is an AUD $120m (£64.5m) business that employs around 450 people and the growth has really gained momentum in the last few years,” he said. “In the last three to four years we have doubled in size and a lot of that has come from our expansion into own retail.”

Seafolly swimsuits retail for £80 to 100 [IF CAN’T GET WHOLESALE].

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