True Capital has announced the majority acquisition of Blackbird Retail Holdings, owner of one of the UK’s largest online furniture retailers, The Cotswold Company.
The firm will partner with the existing management team to lead the company through its next stage of growth, using its sector specialist expertise to accelerate online growth, expand product and category ranges and increase The Cotswold Company’s showroom footprint across the UK.
Founded in 1996, The Cotswold Company was acquired by Blackbird Retail Holdings in a purchase led by Kevin Johnson and James Birtwhistle in 2009. The company sells oak, pine, painted furniture and accessories with a market-leading value proposition. The company handles over 100,000 orders every year from its 170,000 sqft warehouse in Wednesbury. The business, which generates annual revenues in excess of £35m, has delivered strong compound annual sales and EBITDA growth over the last four years, and with True Capital’s support it is well positioned to continue that trajectory.
The online retail furniture market has grown rapidly in recent years with double-digit growth, and is expected to keep growing at a compound annual growth (CAGR) of around 13% to 2020, according to Verdict and Forrester research. The Cotswold Company has established a platform from which it will continue to benefit from the ongoing channel shift.
Gordon Segal, founder of the US-based $1b-turnover furniture retailer Crate&Barrel, whose family office, Prairie Management Group, is a significant investor in the True Capital fund, will play an active role in the company – particularly around product, real estate and supply chain – following the transaction.
Matt Truman, CEO and co-founder of True Capital, comments: “As a sector-specialist firm, we aim to invest in retailers of the future and utilise our unique retail and consumer ecosystem to help accelerate growth. In The Cotswold Company we identified a strong business exposed to the right structural growth trends, with excellent financial metrics, driven and executed by exceptional founders and a world-class management team. Gordon Segal’s involvement in this acquisition is another great example of our sector ecosystem and I am sure he will prove to be a fantastic asset for the company going forward. We are looking forward to working closely with Kevin and the management team to build and scale the business over the coming years to become a true market leader.”
Kevin Johnson, CEO of The Cotswold Company, comments: “I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved to date in delivering great quality furniture to homes throughout the UK. We have built a loyal and growing consumer base, and are continually driven to ensure our customers receive not only the best furniture, but also an exceptional retail experience. In True Capital we have found a partner to take our business to the next level, whilst allowing us to adopt new technologies that will benefit our customers’ experiences. Throughout the process, which took just eight weeks, it was evident that the professionalism, experience, spirit of partnership and retail network that True Capital will bring to our business is second to none. We are delighted to have them on board and look forward to growing the business with them over the coming years.”
Gordon Segal adds: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to get involved in the next stage of The Cotswold Company’s growth. Building great businesses requires exceptional people and an outstanding culture. Having spent a long period of time with both True Capital and The Cotswold Company management team in recent weeks, I am absolutely confident Kevin and the wider team, with True Capital’s support, have the potential to build a very significant company. I am hopeful the experience I have gathered over the last 50 years building Crate&Barrel will be valuable to the team, and I am excited to be working with Kevin, Matt and their respective teams going forward.”
The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Corporate Transactions team provided the senior debt package for the transaction, plus committed working capital lines. True Capital was advised by Jones Day and PwC. The shareholders of Blackbird Retail Holdings were advised by Livingstone Partners, JDC Corporate Finance and Pinsent Masons.