Change Capital Partners backs Republic buyout

The firm has made its third acquisition in the UK retail sector, purchasing the Republic fashion chain from 3i.

London-based private equity firm Change Capital Partners has backed the £105 million (€154 million; $184 million) buyout of young adult fashion retailer Republic from London-listed 3i.

As part of the deal, chief executive officer Tim Whitworth and buying director Carl Brewins have reinvested in the company, while Change Capital Partners will be the majority shareholder. Lloyds TSB provided debt for the transaction.

Initial press reports last month put the likely acquisition value at £100 million, and also suggested that Change Capital Partners had beaten off competition from rival investment groups HgCapital and Graphite Capital.

Change Capital Partners was set up in 2003 by former Marks & Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde, Steve Petrow and Frederic Hufkens. The firm’s previous investments include the acquisitions of DIY retailer Robert Dyas for £61 million in March 2004 and blind manufacturer Hillarys Blinds for £115 million in August 2004.

Yorkshire-based Republic currently operates 76 stores throughout the UK, selling casual wear branded clothing by Bench, Hooch, Replay and G-Star, as well as its own branded range. Over the last two years, Republic has opened 36 new stores, driving sales to £100 million, according to the firm.