Apax Partners übernimmt niederländischen Online Shopping Experten RFS

By on Juli 7, 2015
  • Accelerated growth Wehkamp with financial backing and expertise of new shareholder
  • Higher revenues (+12%) and profit Wehkamp in financial year 2014/2015
  • Revenues holding company RFS grow to €711 million (€46 million profit)
  • Profitable growth strategy Wehkamp puts emphasis on customer experience, a broader assortment and the best service
  • Online market leader in fashion, sports & leisure, beauty & wellness and home

Online lifestyle department store Wehkamp strengthens its leading market position in The Netherlands with the entry of new shareholder Apax Partners, a leading international private equity company. Apax Partners has reached agreement with the current shareholders of holding company RFS Holland Holding (“RFS”) about the acquisition of RFS. The injection of capital from and expertise of Apax Partners will enable Wehkamp to implement innovations even faster with an emphasis on customer experience, a broader assortment and the best service.
The successful strategy of Wehkamp resulted for the financial year 2014/2015 in growth acceleration, resulting in 12 percent consumer revenue growth to €546 million. This totalled RFS consumer revenues, including Fonq.nl, Create2fit and Lacent, to €711.3 million, with a healthy profit (EBITDA) of €46 million. Wehkamp is one of the few online retailers that besides revenue growth also shows a sound (‘double digit’) profit development.
The profitable growth strategy of Wehkamp, that proved to be successful in the previous year under the current shareholders, enters a new phase. This will be enabled by the financial power and online expertise of Apax Partners, who has a portfolio of successful digital companies. The strong results, the market position of Wehkamp and the excellent prospects of RFS are the rationale for Apax Partners to pursue this acquisition.

Growth Wehkamp
The repositioning of the Wehkamp brand has been further enhanced in the previous year. The company aims for customer experience of the individual consumer who wants to be surprised and seduced online with relevant products. The website is consequently set-up as ‘browse & discover’, which creates the customer experience that fits with individual lifestyles. The concept ‘the personal department store’ will increasingly provide online customers tailor-made opportunities. Wehkamp is a 100% pure online store, because of the existing enormous growth opportunities in the online retail market. The company is successful with its online offering due to its investments in targeted and tailored solutions to provide customers suggestions of products and information they really look for. This information is offered amongst others via interesting and attractive content via an online editorial platform, cooperation with vloggers and high quality production photography in the own photo studio.

Market leader
The company is the online market leader in fashion, sports & leisure, beauty & wellness and home and has a number 3 position in electronics in The Netherlands. Wehkamp has developed into a
‘powerhouse of brands’, where successful internationals brands gladly present themselves. River Island, Supertrash, Polo Ralph Lauren and HK Living can among others also be purchased at Wehkamp since this year.
Furthermore much has been invested in the service offering with which Wehkamp distinguishes itself. Wehkamp now delivers 6 days per week, enabling customers to opt for which day and within which timeframe of three hours they would like to receive their orders. The opening of the new fully automated distribution centre in Zwolle, the largest in the world in its kind, will ensure that, as of this autumn, consumers can obtain delivery that same day. This applies to 95 percent of the assortment, partly due to the fact that all products are in stock. An order will then be ready for sending only 30 minutes after the purchase. Around 90% of all Dutch households is customer at Wehkamp.
CEO Gert van de Weerdhof is delighted about the new possibilities for RFS: “The previous years the investments focused on growth have been beneficial and our results improved strongly. With the capital injection and expertise of Apax Partners, we will be able to implement innovations even faster with an emphasis on customer experience, a broader assortment and the best service. I am enthusiastic about Apax Partners as a strong new shareholder that clearly expressed its confidence in our strategy and people and brings valuable experience with growth companies such as Tommy Hilfiger, Autotrader and Exact.”
„We are delighted at the prospect of Apax Funds becoming a shareholder at RFS and at working with, and supporting, Gert van de Weerdhof and his management team. Wehkamp is an extraordinarily well-known and respected Dutch brand – and the steps that Gert and RFS’ employees, with the support of RFS‘ current shareholders, have taken to turn the business into a world-class digital retailer are very impressive. Apax Funds have a long and successful track record in both Digital and Retail, as evidenced by investments in AutoTrader, Trader Canada, Bankrate, Tommy Hilfiger, New Look and Calvin Klein/PVH. In addition, our Digital and Operational Excellence practices act as experienced, value-added partners for management. As advisors to the Apax Funds, we look forward enormously to working with Gert and his team in the years to come, and to support the further development of a business that will be an exciting place to work for employees, a trusted and valued partner for suppliers and that will continue to develop its market-leading customer offering,“ commented Tom Hall, Partner at Apax Partners LLP.
The works council of RFS has been informed about the intended acquisition and has given a positive advice. The acquisition is submitted for approval to the relevant authorities and will be subject to approval of the AFM. The transaction is expected to be finalized in Q3.
Details of the transaction are not disclosed.
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About RFS Holland Holding
RFS Holland Holding B.V. (RFS) is the holding company of Wehkamp, Lacent, Fonq and Create2Fit. RFS is the online shopping expert in The Netherlands. Annual revenues, including partnerships, amounted to €711 million in the financial year 2014/2015. RFS employs 830 staff. The company head office is located in Zwolle.

About Apax
Apax Partners is a leading global private equity advisory firm. It operates globally and has more than 30 years of investing experience. Apax Partners has advised funds that total over €34 billion in aggregate as at 31 March 2015. Funds advised by Apax invest in companies across four global sectors of Technology & Telecoms, Services, Healthcare and Consumer. These funds provide long‐term equity financing to build and strengthen world-class companies. For further information about Apax, please visit www.apax.com.

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