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Maxeda's Hunkemoller bought by PAI

Dutch lingerie chain Hunkemöller has been sold to private equity business PAI.

Hunkemöller, which is part of Dutch retail group Maxeda, has been bought subject to approval from trade unions and competition authorities.

The transaction is set to be completed in early 2011. It is the latest in a string of deals by Maxeda which sold its luxury department store chain de Bijenkorf to Selfridges Group last week and its V&D department store chain to Sun Capital Group earlier in the year.

Maxeda said in a statement: “Hunkemöller has demonstrated a strong track record of growth and profitability with support from Maxeda and with significant expansion potential has a clear strategy to drive future growth and margins.”

Hunkemöller has 500 stores worldwide and is a leading retailer in the Benelux region and in Germany. It has a growing franchise network and expanding e-commerce platform. Chief executive Philip Mountford, who joined the lingerie chain in February last year after leaving menswear group Moss Bros where he was chief executive, said: “Hunkemöller has grown year on year over the last ten years and it is now ready to further accelerate its growth strategy.

Speaking to Drapers, he added the chain is planning to expand to 700 stores over the next three years, and it is focusing on Germany, where it will have 125 by the end of the year, Austria, Spain and France, and is currently opening one new store every ten days.

Mountford said it has a “robust pipeline of stores” with deals already signed on two-thirds of the retail space for next year and it will accelerate to opening one store every week in the next year,

He said the chain is considering expanding into the UK market and has held early talks with a department store chain but he added that a deal was not imminent but may happen over the next three years.

Hunkemöller will also expand its 60-strong domestic and international franchise business. It currently has 45 stores across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and it is about to open its first stores in Israel and Poland, where is it also planning to open wholly-owned shops. Mountford said it is also investigating opportunities in India, China and the Far East.

It is currently seeking an e-commerce director to head up its online plans, which include rolling-out its transactional website to new markets including Denmark and France. It is currently only available in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

PAI has investments in retailers including Italian department store chain Coin, French business Vivarte which has a stake in Kookai and Spanish retail giant Cortefiel.

Michel Paris, head of retail at PAI partners, said: “We have been very impressed by the strong market position of Hunkemöller in the Benelux as well as the growth opportunity in Germany and other European countries.”

He added: “We are very excited to back Philip Mountford and his team and to grow Hunkemöller to become the leading vertically integrated lingerie retailer in Europe.”

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