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. www.equistone.de / www.equistonepe.com.
About Eschenbach www.eschenbach-optik.com.
About Inspecs https://inspecs.com.