SYDNEY — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s private equity arm is investing in the Aussie beach lifestyle.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

L Capital Asia confirmed Tuesday it is taking a controlling interest in Australian swimwear company Seafolly for an undisclosed amount. Seafolly will retain a more than 20 percent stake, according to Seafolly chief executive officer Anthony Halas.

Some analyst estimates put Seafolly’s total asset value as high as 400 million Australian dollars, or $340 million at current exchange.

Founded by Halas’ parents Peter and Yvonne Halas in 1975, Seafolly is Australia’s largest swimwear manufacturer with a more than 30 percent local market share and 110 million Australian dollars in group sales for fiscal 2014 — or $104 million at average fiscal 2014 exchange — up 17 percent on 2013, Halas told WWD.

Seafolly sells to 400 stockists in Australia and New Zealand and to 1,211 stockists in 42 markets globally and operates 14 Seafolly concept stores within Australia, three in Singapore and one in the U.S., with two more U.S. freestanding stores slated to open in 2015.

Seafolly also owns the 23-unit multibrand Australian swimwear chain Sunburn and the celebrity swimwear line Isola by Megan Gale, which is exclusive to David Jones department stores.

L Capital Asia plans to develop Seafolly into a full lifestyle brand and expand into other categories, including fashion and quadruple sales within five years, according to Halas, who believes Seafolly could be a $1 billion brand within a decade.

“What Billabong and Rip Curl and Quiksilver were to the surf market, Seafolly can be in its own space,” said Halas, who claims to have been courted “almost daily” by trade and private equity suitors prior to a call from L Capital Asia about 12 months ago.

“When they approached me, they said, ‘We want to get into this swimwear space and we think there’s no second option,’” he added. “What is so unique about Seafolly is we cut through such a huge market sector — from teenage girls to young mums through to women in their 40s. Most brands are much more niche than that. We also have 30-percent-plus market share in Australia. There is no other swimwear brand that has that kind of market share in any market.”

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