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Frasers buys Matchesfashion

Frasers Group Plc has bought the online luxury clothing retailer for over $60 million

A person looks at a window display in New York City.
A person looks at a window display in New York City. (Getty Images via AFP)

Frasers Group Plc has bought online luxury clothing retailer Matchesfashion for around £52 million ($66 million), the latest deal for the acquisitive British fashion empire majority-owned by Mike Ashley.

Frasers will buy the shares of Matchesfashion as well as the senior and junior debt, according to a statement Wednesday. Matches, which has been loss-making in recent years, is owned by private equity firm Apax Partners. 

Apax, which also provided shareholder loans to the company, will get nothing for the equity, while lenders AlbaCore and KKR & Co. will take a “haircut” on their debt, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing confidential deliberations.

Also read: Princess Diana's 1980s dress fetches $1.1 million at auction

Representatives for Apax, AlbaCore and KKR declined to comment, while a spokesman for Frasers didn’t reply to several requests for comment.

Matchesfashion generates most of its revenue internationally, delivering to 150 countries outside the UK. Adjusted losses before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the year ending Jan. 31 2023 totaled £33.5 million.

For Frasers the acquisition is an opportunity to further develop its strategy of refurbishing stores and improving its image as it seeks to attract the biggest brands. It will also boost the company’s luxury offering through its Flannels brand.

The move follows the near-collapse of troubled luxury fashion platform Farfetch Ltd., which recently secured a lifeline from e-commerce company Coupang Inc. Coupang, which has its roots in South Korea and is backed by SoftBank Group Corp., agreed to lend $500 million, buy the assets and de-list Farfetch’s shares.

Matchesfashion and Farfetch are both casualties of the sharp slowdown in global luxury goods sales impacting many high-end retailers. After surging during the pandemic when shoppers splurged on luxury goods from home, the companies have burned through cash, and Farfetch in particular has struggled to keep fashion names on its platform as those brands prefer to build out their own sites.

“Whilst the global luxury environment is softer, we are confident that by leveraging our industry-leading ecosystem we will unlock synergies and drive profitable growth for Matches,” Frasers Chief Executive Officer Michael Murray said. 

Nick Beighton, CEO of Matches, will work closely with Frasers to develop the strategy going forward, according to the statement. Beighton previously spent nearly 13 years at Asos Plc, mostly as chief financial officer and as CEO. 

Ahead of the deal, Matchesfashion had around £110 million in outstanding term loans, whose maturity had been extended through to April 2026 in a deal closed in June. 

Apax had supported the company through its struggles with just over £200 million in equity and shareholder loans since the breakout of the pandemic, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Matchesfashion’s annual reports.

The company’s debt structure also included a £40 million asset-based lending facility with Wells Fargo, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company has exited this facility, the people familiar said. 

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo didn’t reply to a request for comment.  

Also read: Coupang to buy online luxury firm Farfetch

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