German online and catalogue fashion retailer sold to private equity firm

Schneider Group, a leading German catalogue and online retailer selling fashion, lifestyle and promotional products, has been acquired by European private equity firm Silverfleet Capital in a secondary buyout from Barclays Private Equity for an undisclosed sum.

Headquartered in Wedel, near Hamburg, the Schneider Group sells products into the German, Austrian, Swiss, Dutch and Swedish markets  with total sales of €241m in 2009 and an EBITDA of €26m.

As part of the deal management and the founder’s family are reinvesting and will continue to hold a minority stake in the business.  The transaction, which is subject to competition authority approval, is expected to close in November. Debt capital was provided by a syndicate of banks led by UniCredit.

Sebastian Kern, who is responsible for the transaction at Silverfleet Capital, alongside Guido May, both partners in its Munich office, said: “The Schneider Group is financially strong and cash generative and has grown significantly due to its distinctive ranges, also shared warehousing and distribution operations mean that it benefits from a highly efficient and cost effective infrastructure. This has played a significant part in supporting the rapid growth of the Group’s on-line sales and it is in this area where we see significant potential to add scale and grow the business.”

Carsten Muuß, managing director of the Schneider Group, added: “During the sales process, the Silverfleet Capital team has shown a comprehensive and impressive knowledge of our market. We are now looking forward to the implementation of new growth drivers in cooperation with our new majority owner and the further development of our business model.”

The Schneider Group is known for retailing fashion and lifestyle products under the trading names of Impressionen, Conley’s and Discovery, which sell both in-house designed collections and brands such as Belstaff, True Religion, Boss and Tommy Hilfiger through catalogues and online. More recently the Group launched several web only retail concepts. The company also sells corporate gifts and promotional products under the Schneider name, mainly via catalogues which are distributed to around 2m small and medium sized businesses across Germany.

This acquisition is Silverfleet’s second from its current €670m fund following the acquisition in September 2009 of Kalle, a global leader in the production of artificial sausage casings.