Munich — Funds advi­sed by Equis­tone Part­ners Europe (“Equis­tone”) sell their majo­rity stake in Eschen­bach Holding GmbH (“Eschen­bach”), Nurem­berg. Eschen­bach is a German market leader in eyewear and spec­ta­cle frames, vision aids and ready-to-wear sunglas­ses with strong posi­tio­ning in Europe and the USA. Toge­ther with the British Inspecs Group plc (“Inspecs”), based in Bath and listed in London, Eschen­bach will further expand this strong market posi­tion. The details of the tran­sac­tion are not being disc­lo­sed and the tran­sac­tion remains subject to appr­oval by the rele­vant compe­ti­tion autho­ri­ties and the fulfill­ment of contrac­tual conditions.

Foun­ded in 1913, Eschen­bach is today the world market leader for opti­cal vision aids and one of the leading global desi­gners of eyewear and opti­cal products. Whether with its charac­terful eyewear brands, its magni­fy­ing vision aids or its bino­cu­lars, the company combi­nes award-winning design with relia­ble quality. This is also demons­tra­ted by seve­ral “Red Dot Awards” that Eschen­bach has recei­ved for its eyewear coll­ec­tions in the past three years alone. Accor­ding to current figu­res from the Gesell­schaft für Konsum­for­schung (GfK), the company has also been the leader in the German market for eyeglass frames in all price segments since the end of 2019.

Barclays Private Equity, Equistone’s prede­ces­sor, had acqui­red Eschen­bach toge­ther with the manage­ment team from the foun­ding family and a finan­cial inves­tor in July 2007. Since then, sales have increased from an initial €100 million to €143 million in 2019. This period also includes the stra­te­gic sale of the Tech­ni­cal Optics divi­sion in 2014 and the important acqui­si­ti­ons of the British eyewear supplier Inter­na­tio­nal Ey ewear Limi­ted (2008) and the US eyewear brand Tura (2009).

Inspecs, a desi­gner, manu­fac­tu­rer and supplier of eyeglass frames and lenses was foun­ded in 1988 by Robin Totter­man (CEO). The Group produ­ces a wide range of eyewear frames for the opti­cal, sunglas­ses and safety segments, which are sold either “bran­ded” (under license or through the Group’s own brands) or “OEM” (inclu­ding trade­marks on behalf of retail custo­mers and unbran­ded). As one of the few compa­nies able to offer such a one-stop-shop solu­tion for inter­na­tio­nal retail chains, Inspecs is ideally posi­tio­ned to conti­nue gaining market share in the growing global eyewear market. Inspecs’ custo­mers include inter­na­tio­nally posi­tio­ned retail­ers in the opti­cal segment and beyond, as well as whole­sa­lers and inde­pen­dent opti­ci­ans. The Group’s distri­bu­tion network covers 80 count­ries and reaches appro­xi­m­ately 30,000 points of sale. Inspecs opera­tes globally with offices in the UK, Portu­gal, Scan­di­na­via, the USA and China (Hong Kong, Macau and Shen­zen), and manu­fac­tu­ring faci­li­ties in Viet­nam, China, the UK and Italy.

Dr. Marc Arens, Mana­ging Direc­tor and Part­ner of Equis­tone at the Munich loca­tion: “The succes­ses of our time toge­ther, an extre­mely posi­tive fiscal year 2019 and a new five-year growth stra­tegy provide Eschen­bach with the ideal basis for further successful corpo­rate deve­lo­p­ment. The merger with Inspecs will give Eschen­bach addi­tio­nal impe­tus for a new chap­ter in its success story and sustain­ably streng­then its global compe­ti­tive position.”

“In the very good coope­ra­tion over the past ten years, Equis­tone has always proven to be a relia­ble and growth-orien­ted inves­tor and part­ner,” adds Eschen­bach CEO Dr. Jörg Zobel. “Toge­ther with Equis­tone, we have found the ideal stra­te­gic part­ner for our future five-year stra­tegy in Inspecs. We have big goals that we want to realize toge­ther with our new part­ner. In doing so, high stan­dards of craft­sman­ship and quality as well as the opti­mal combi­na­tion of form and func­tion in design shall remain essen­tial for us.”

“We have been follo­wing Eschenbach’s deve­lo­p­ment with inte­rest for some time and are plea­sed to welcome Germany’s No. 1 eyewear manu­fac­tu­rer and its team to the Inspecs Group. The combi­na­tion of these two indus­try-leading compa­nies crea­tes the sixth largest eyewear provi­der in the world over­all and will allow us to expand into addi­tio­nal key markets around the world while further diver­si­fy­ing our combi­ned custo­mer and product port­fo­lio. This is an exci­ting time for the indus­try and I am alre­ady looking forward to working with Eschen­bach,” said Robin Totter­man, CEO of Inspecs.

Respon­si­ble for the tran­sac­tion on the part of Equis­tone are Michael H. Bork, Dr. Marc Arens and Julia Lucà. Equis­tone and Eschen­bach were advi­sed on the tran­sac­tion by Lincoln Inter­na­tio­nal (M&A), Ashurst (Legal), E&Y Parthe­non (Stra­tegy) and E&Y (Finan­cial & Tax). Inspecs was advi­sed by Living­stone (M&A), Gleiss Lutz (Legal) and KPMG (Finan­cial & Tax).

About Equis­tone Part­ners Europe
Equis­tone Part­ners Europe is one of the most active Euro­pean equity inves­tors with a team of more than 40 invest­ment specia­lists in seven offices in Germany, Switz­er­land, the Nether­lands, France and the UK. Equis­tone prima­rily invests in estab­lished medium-sized compa­nies with a good market posi­tion, above-average growth poten­tial and an enter­prise value of between EUR 50 and 500 million. Since its foun­da­tion, equity has been inves­ted in around 150 tran­sac­tions in the DACH region and the Nether­lands, mainly mid-market buy-outs. The port­fo­lio curr­ently compri­ses over 40 compa­nies across Europe, inclu­ding around 20 active holdings in Germany, Switz­er­land and the Nether­lands. Equis­tone is curr­ently inves­t­ing from its sixth fund, which closed in March 2018 with €2.8 billion. /

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