LONDON — Lion Capital — which holds stakes in AllSaints, American Apparel and John Varvatos — said this week it has agreed to invest in the French eyewear retailer, Alain Afflelou.
Lion said in a statement it plans to purchase the brand, which was founded in 1972 and is the largest optical franchisor in Europe, along with the founder Alain Afflelou and the group’s management.
Bridgepoint has been the company’s majority shareholder in since 2006.
The company has a network of nearly 1,100 retail stores in Continental Europe, Morocco, Lebanon and Ivory Coast selling optical eyewear and sunglasses under its own brand and for companies including Guess and Hello Kitty.
“Alain Afflelou has established an enviable position within the optical retail industry in Europe by consistent communication to the consumer of innovative product solutions and attractive and creative promotional offerings,” Javier Ferrán, a partner at Lion Capital, said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Alain to support the continued growth of this exciting brand, and believe we are uniquely positioned to contribute to this success.”
Lion Capital has been granted a period of exclusivity in order to reach a definitive agreement to buy the company, which will begin a consultation process with employees this week, the statement said.
“I am pleased to be partnering with Lion Capital which has significant consumer sector expertise. With this new shareholder our brand will be perfectly placed to continue growing in France and other markets across Europe,” said Afflelou.
This transaction should be completed by June, pending approval by the European Competition Authorities.
Alain Afflelou has retail sales of 800 million euros, or $1.1 billion at current exchange.