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Agent Provocateur: Grows Too Fast To Sell

(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Agent Provocateur’s rapid recent sales growth and future potential has convinced its owners to keep building the business rather than sell it, a spokesperson told BODY.

The international luxury lingerie retailer reported sales of £43.5 million (about $67.7 million at current exchange rates) for the nine months ending December 27, 2014, “up 20% on the prior 9 months.” The source, Kathryn van der Kroft, communications director at 3i Group plc, a large investment group headquartered in London, added that comparable stores sales were “up 8% on a local currency basis” and that “online sales were up 36%.”

In 2007, 3i, which has almost $20 billion in assets under management in a variety of industries, bought a controlling interest in the UK-based lingerie firm (reported at the time as an 80% interest for £60m — or $91 million at today’s exchange rates).

Last summer, news articles, including one in The Wall Street Journal, claimed 3i had hired Goldman Sachs to explore the possibility of a sale of Agent Provocateur, with a suggestion that the potential price could go as high as 200 million pounds (approximately $336 million).

But when asked by BODY about last summer’s reports, van der Kroft replied, “Regarding the rumors of a sale, what actually happened is that 3i appointed an adviser to conduct a strategic review of the asset (we do this type of review with all our portfolio companies after we’ve been invested for a few years). This review determined that there is still plenty of future growth at AP (e.g. in China and the L’Agent range, to name just a few areas), so we decided to retain AP and support its further growth, rather than explore a sale at this point in time.”

The latest sales revelations show that Agent Provocateur has been growing rapidly over the past three years. Sales for its fiscal year ended March 29, 2014 were £53.1 million (or about $80 million) up from £39 million, (or about $59 million) for the prior year. Speaking about that year, the company noted, “For the second year in succession, EBITDA increased by over 50% year on year, growing from £6.2m to £9.6m” (or from about $9.4 million to about $14.5 million).

While Agent Provocateur does provide some information on its sales and income from time to time, van der Kroft explained it is not required to produce a formal annual report or complete financial statements.

The 3i executive stated there are now “102 main range Agent Provocateur stores (including department store concessions and franchise stores) in 30 countries. She added that in addition to a planned opening this summer in Short Hills, NJ (BODY, 4.17.2015) there will be two additional openings in China in the near future: at “the Daci Temple (Chengdu) and Plazza 66 (Shanghai) in China.” She continued, “AP is particularly excited about its experience to date, and its growth prospects, in China. AP entered China c.18 months ago and currently operates from 4 stores (2 in Beijing, one in Shanghai and one in Chengdu). Of these, 3 are concessions and one (Beijing) is a store in a luxury mall. All of these stores have exceeded expectations, delivering profitability in the region despite only entering the market 18 months ago.”

In 2013, Agent Provocateur launched a separate brand, L’Agent by Agent Provocateur. “Designed in collaboration with Monica and Penelope Cruz, L’Agent started as a wholesale brand, but is now also trading in 3 boutiques in New York, London and LA as well as through a standalone website.” The Manhattan store opened about November 1 at 259 Elizabeth Street. (BODY, 10.27.2014). van der Kroft claimed that the new “diffusion range” has been “going from strength to strength and is helping to reach a broader audience.”

more wholesale Lingerie News >>

Published 05-20-2015 by Nick Monjo

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