EQT V (“EQT”) has agreed to acquire a majority ownership in the Nordic region’s fastest growing sports retail chain, XXL Sport & Villmark (XXL), from the existing owners. The founder and current main shareholder together with management will remain as substantial shareholders alongside EQT V. Other existing shareholders have sold all of their shares to EQT.
“With the aggressive expansion plans we have, this is a good time for XXL to have a new major shareholder like EQT coming in. I am looking forward to continuing to grow and expand XXL together with EQT and the resources they can provide,” says Øivind Tidemandsen who will continue as chairman of XXL.
XXL was founded in 2001 and today owns and operates 14 sporting goods mega-stores located in the largest cities in Norway. In the period 2003 to 2010 sales have grown on average by 30% per year and in 2010 XXL expects to reach sales of almost NOK 2 billion. XXL is the fastest growing player on the Norwegian sporting goods retail market with a market share of close to 15%, which is increasing rapidly.
Together with the founder, EQT intends to accelerate a further expansion in the Norwegian market and enter the Swedish market. Two Swedish stores in Stockholm and one in Gothenburg are planned to open later in 2010, and XXL’s concept will be unique in the Swedish sporting goods market.
“We look forward to providing Swedish customers with a whole new experience in sporting goods including the lowest prices in the market,” says Fredrik Steenbuch, CEO of XXL.
“XXL is a very attractive company with great potential for expansion in Norway, Sweden and beyond. The Company has a unique concept and a strong management team who together with its experienced founder have built a solid platform. We are backing a team which showed remarkable success in the 90’s with their expansion of Elkjøp/Elgiganten from its Norwegian base throughout the Nordic region. With our network of industrial advisors, resources, and experience from similar situations we look forward to providing support for XXL’s similar growth plans,” says Christian Sinding, Senior Partner at EQT Partners AS in Norway.
EQT has extensive experience from the retail sector including its investment in Plantasjen from 2001 to 2007. During this period the Norwegian garden superstores chain expanded successfully into other Nordic countries and the number of stores increased from 27 to 72.
The XXL concept of having the largest stores with branded goods at the market’s lowest prices has revolutionized the Norwegian sporting goods retail sector in the past 10 years and XXL CEO Fredrik Steenbuch sees large similarities between the Norwegian and Swedish markets.
“We can offer well-known brands at the lowest prices due to our large stores and stream-lined and efficient operations. We are convinced that the Swedish customers will find our assortment and prices at least as attractive as the Norwegians have. With the additional support from EQT I believe we have a very strong position when we now enter the Swedish market,” he says.
The sports retail markets in both Norway and Sweden have grown steadily over the past decade and are expected to continue growing in the coming years. The sports retail market has exhibited limited exposure to economic cycles and has been relatively unaffected by the recent economic downturn. The Nordic markets are among the biggest per capita spenders on sporting and outdoor equipment in Europe.
Advisors to the sellers were Carnegie ASA, Guardian Corporate AS, Ernst & Young and Thommessen. Advisers to the buyer were Arctic Securities ASA, McKinsey, Deloitte, and Steenstrup Stordrange.
Fredrik Steenbuch, CEO +47 924 36 855
Christian Sinding, Senior Partner +47 23 23 75 50
Johan Hähnel, Communications & PR +46 8 506 55 334
EQT is a group of leading private equity funds with investments in Northern Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, USA and Asia. EQT manages funds active within buy-outs, growth financing and infrastructure. EQT deploys a unique industrial approach to investing, utilizing a vast network of industrialists to identify and develop companies. EQT’s model is based on clear corporate governance. The EQT funds mainly acquire or finance market leaders with considerable growth potential.
EQT acts as a catalyst for change in the companies that the funds invest in. The companies develop into market leading players through genuine and sustainable operational improvements. EQT has raised approximately EUR 13 billion in 12 funds, which have invested approximately EUR 7 billion in more than 70 companies. EQT owned companies have more than 500,000 employees.
Since EQT’s first acquisition in 1995, the average annual growth in its portfolio companies has been 12%, the number of employees has increased by 10% and earnings by 19% annually. More than 90% of the value creation is attributable to growth, strategic repositioning and increased earnings.
EQT Partners is advisor to all EQT funds and has more than 100 investment professionals with an extensive industrial and financial competence. EQT Partners has offices in Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Hong Kong, London, Munich, New York, Oslo, Shanghai, Stockholm, Warsaw and Zurich.
More information about EQT can be found on www.eqt.no and www.eqt.se.
EQT is a group of private equity funds that has raised approximately €13 billion in 12 funds. EQT Partners, acting as investment advisor to all EQT funds, has offices in Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Oslo, London, Munich, New York, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm, Warsaw and Zurich. EQT funds realise their business concept by acquiring, financing and developing high-quality medium-sized companies in Northern and Eastern Europe, North America and Asia. EQT serves as an active owner and works in close cooperation with the management of the companies it acquires, to develop and implement value-enhancing strategies. In total EQT funds have invested in more than 70 companies.