Universal Store taken over for $100m

Universal Store taken over for $100m

A consortium of three private equity investors has acquired Brisbane-based national fashion retailer Universal Store, in a deal estimated to be worth around $100 million.

KPMG and Ashurst acted as advisors to Universal in the buyout from Five V Capital, Catalyst Direct Capital Management and BBRC Worldwide, and expects the transaction to be complete by the end of October.

Universal Store was founded in 1999 by brothers Greg and Michael Josephson, when the first store was established at Carindale, Brisbane.

Today the business is a national retailer with 53 stores in six states, a growing online store and turnover in excess of $100 million. The company focuses on an EBIT margin of 10 per cent. 

"In the midst of many challenging stories in the retail sector, Universal Store is a shining light," says KPMG's national head of M&A Peter Turner.

"This outcome is a credit to a strong group of management and shareholders who have collectively developed a market leading business. They have been a pleasure to work with."

The consortium reportedly acquired Universal Store because of its clearly defined strategy, proven leadership team and the way it has focused on customers and embraced technology.

BB Retail Capital already has experience in the fashion retail sector, with investments in such brands as Bras n Things, Honey Birdette and Lovisa.

Universal Store CEO Alice Barbery says she is delighted that KPMG has helped the retailer find partners who have deep experience in the sector and a supportive approach for the continued growth of the business.

"We think it's a great outcome for our business, and positions us well for further growth," she says.

Barbery says Universal Store's people are the biggest reason behind its success and remain key to its future.

"We've built an exceptional team and in turn we have strong relationships with our key brands and landlords," she says.

"We have also enjoyed committed and consistent support from our founders and major shareholders over many years, and are deeply appreciative of the Josephson family.

"Looking forward, our strategy remains simple but effective. We are focused on delighting our customers, and further expanding our store network and omni-channel offering to meet their needs."

The Consortium was advised by Gilbert & Tobin and PwC.

Photo: Westfield

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