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15 December 2010

Silverfleet Capital acquires footwear business, OFFICE

Silverfleet Capital, the European private equity firm has completed the acquisition of OFFICE, the footwear business, for an undisclosed amount from West Coast Capital (WCC). In October, Silverfleet announced the sale of Histoire D’Or, a jewellery retailer in France.

OFFICE first opened in 1981 and has since grown to 75 stand-alone stores in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and 46 concessions in House of Fraser, Topshop (including New York), Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. In addition it has a fast growing internet business. The business retails a selection of the best footwear brands available including Ugg, Converse, Vans and Hunter as well as its own-branded shoes, primarily under brands such as “OFFICE”, “Ffor” and “Poste”. Total sales in 2009 were £146 million with an EBITDA of £18.5 million.

“OFFICE is a great business with a management team that really understands what its customer wants. The stores are a destination for anyone looking for fashionable shoes – men or women; designer look to sports. The young fashion sector of the footwear market is growing fast and there is still room for a roll-out of stores within the UK and potentially overseas.” said Gareth Whiley, partner at Silverfleet Capital.

Sir Tom Hunter, chairman of WCC who bought the OFFICE chain in 2003 when it had 23 stores added: “Having held OFFICE for seven years and grown it to become the dominant UK fashion footwear business it was appropriate to sell to Silverfleet to oversee the next phase of growth. Brian (McCluskey) and the management team have done an outstanding job and we wish them and Silverfleet Capital well going forward.”

Brian McCluskey who will continue as CEO of the business under Silverfleet Capital ownership commented: “The past seven years have been a rewarding challenge; the next seven should yield continuing opportunity as we look to further UK and potentially international expansion. During the sale process Silverfleet demonstrated their knowledge of, and commitment to, growing this business in a dynamic manner and we in the management team look forward to building on our existing success with them. Thanks to the commitment of our brand partners and our people we look forward to continued growth.”

As part of the deal management will invest to acquire a stake in the business. Debt capital was provided by Lloyds Banking Group, Banca IMI and the Cooperative Bank.

Working on the transaction for Silverfleet Capital were Gareth Whiley, David MacKenzie and Johannes Huttunen. Gareth and David have joined the board of OFFICE as non-executive directors.