River Island owners buy Mint Velvet in £100m deal
Mint Velvet has been acquired by the family that controls the giant River Island chain in a deal valuing it at more than £100 million. The womenswear brand, which targets a fashion conscious 35+ age group, was founded by three former executives of now-defunct Principles, Peter Davies, Liz Houghton and Lisa Agar-Rea. They will now share a multimillion pound purse following the purchase by the Lewis Trust Group (LTG).
The Guardian reported that LTG has held a stake in Mint Velvet since 2015 and that it “exercised an option to take control of the company last week”.
The Lewis family is best known for the River Island chain, although it also owns a stake in American fashion label Dolls Kill, and clearly recognises a concept that is resonating with consumers.
Mint Velvet was launched 10 years ago from Liz Houghton’s home and started at retail with House of Fraser concessions. But it has grown rapidly to take in its own stores too. Those stores, and its prime positions in major department stores, underline the change that has been seen in fashion targeting the 35+ market with a stronger focus on wearable fashion than the more classic department store-focused brands of old.
Of the founding trio, LTG said that Houghton and Lisa Agar-Rea continue to run Mint Velvet and remain invested in the company.
In a market hit by consumer caution, the brand’s parent company saw its sales rising 15.5% in the year to last April. With sales of £101 million from its 40 stores and 125 concessions, it saw profits rising more than 8% to £13.5 million. Since then, it has scaled back its House of Fraser concessions by about 25% after HoF’s administration filing saw it being owed over £2.5 million by the company, the Guardian said.
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