Focus Brands, the distributor that handles Ellesse, Nautica, Yogi, Peter Werth, Patrick, Farah Footwear and Avirex, has been sold by JD Sports, which had bought control of the firm in 2011 after initially buying a minority stake in 2007.
JD Sports has been selling off non-core assets as it concentrates on its key sports retail and outdoor business.
The new owner is Sir Lanka-based Hela Apparel Holdings with the company having paid an undisclosed sum for the business.
Focus is a specialist in sports and streetwear and its purchase by Hela is said to be a first for the Sir Lankan fashion sector. It’s also a significant move for Hela itself, which is aiming to become a fully vertically integrated service provider for the apparel sector.
Its new acquisition will form the bedrock of Hela’s new brand licensing division and will operate independently for now.
And the purchase gives Hela access to a wide market. Focus’s remit doesn’t only cover the UK but also Europe with the firm holding exclusive licensing rights for Ellesse and Nautica in the EU and beyond. It has showrooms in London, Manchester, Berlin, Munich, Düsseldorf and Amsterdam, plus a sourcing office in China and a network of warehouse facilities in the UK and Europe.
A R Rasiah, Chairman of Hela Apparel Holdings, said: “The addition of Focus Brands to the Hela Group is a watershed moment for us as an organisation. We see immense potential to build significant synergies with our existing manufacturing business, supported by the addition of a Focus Brands well-experienced team of over 200 who have a proven track record of successfully growing major apparel brands. We intend to leverage their renowned design, product development, marketing, and distribution capabilities to further elevate Hela’s offering to its existing customers across the industry.”
The new Focus Brands CEO, Ray Evans, also said: “This acquisition is an exciting opportunity that will see the teams at Hela and Focus Brands coming together in collaboration, to create an exciting future for the business.
“Focus has already built up an excellent reputation for itself across the global sports and streetwear industries and, alongside the team at Hela, we intend to build on that established success and amplify what the licensing house has already created.”
And new Focus chairman, Dr Alastair Alderton, who’s also CEO of London-based boutique investment advisor Rianta Capital, which represents Hela’s biggest shareholder, said: “Through this acquisition we plan to rejuvenate, differentiate, and grow the brands within the Focus portfolio, whilst maintaining their own unique DNA. We are excited about the prospects for brands such as Ellesse and Nautica, and we look forward to supporting both Hela and Focus Brands on this journey with Rianta Capital’s deep expertise in forward looking consumer apparel businesses.”
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