Mar 23, 2021
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Carlyle Group takes majority END. stake, founders stay on

Mar 23, 2021

Following months of rumours around a possible stake sale of luxury, streetwear and sportswear retailer END., global investment firm The Carlyle Group has announced that it's buying a majority stake in the business following recent exits from Golden Goose and Supreme. It sees plenty of potential globally, especially in the unexploited womenswear area.


Founders Christiaan Ashworth and John Parker are selling control to Carlyle but will retain “a significant minority stake and remain co-CEOs of the company”. Index Ventures, which currently holds a minority stake, is also selling its holding and will fully exit. The transaction will close on April 1. No purchase price was given but speculation recently valued the company at around £700 million.

The Newcastle, UK-based business was founded in 2005 and is now a multi-brand, digital-led operation that focuses on “luxury and contemporary fashion and the best in sneakers and streetwear” via links with 500 brands and designers. 

Carlyle said it’s an appealing business to buy as it “has developed a highly engaged and loyal customer base through its exclusive collaborations and its unique omnichannel offering, including its online platform, mobile apps and physical stores”. And it clearly has huge potential given that it's operating in one of the most dynamic areas of the fashion sector at present.

The latest results available for END. cover the year to the end of March 2020, which saw it generating revenues of £170 million, some 65% of which came from outside of the UK. We don't know how it fared in the pandemic year, however.

Given that it currently ships to over 100 countries, and with that chunky percentage of international sales, it's no surprise that the new owner wants to make the most of its opportunities in both the UK and abroad.

And the company clearly feels that it's uniquely positioned to help it expand globally given its own experience with international investments. 

It said that equity for the buy will be provided by Carlyle Europe Partners (CEP) V, a €6.4bn fund investing in European opportunities across a range of sectors and industries.

Meanwhile, Ashworth and Parker said Caryle’s “experience and strong track record in luxury and streetwear will be invaluable to us in supporting END.’s long-term and sustainable growth strategy. Carlyle’s industry knowledge and truly global platform will be instrumental as END. continues to reach an increasingly international audience. We’d also like to thank Index Ventures for being a fantastic partner and great to work with over the last seven years.”

Carlyle Europe’s Massimiliano Caraffa, added: “We are attracted to END.’s distinctive style. We are excited by the many growth opportunities that lie ahead for the company, including the launch of womenswear as well as further international expansion.”

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