L Catterton has its eyes firmly on the Japanese glasses market.
The private equity giant’s Asian arm has teamed with Japan’s Mitsui & Co. to plow an unknown amount of cash into fast-growing Japanese eyewear retailer Owndays, whose specialty is own-brand prescription glasses. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, apart from that the current management team will continue to retain substantial equity interests and manage the company.
The investment will be used to help it increase its footprint in Asia and open 500 stores over the next five years, in addition to the 257 units it already has since starting the brand in 2013. About 115 of those are located in Japan, while the others are split between 10 Asian countries.
Shuji Tanaka, Owndays’ chief executive officer, said, “We are excited to welcome two world-class partners, L Catterton Asia and Mitsui & Co., as we enter the next exciting phase in Owndays’ growth in Japan and across Asia. Our ambition is to become Asia’s leading optical retailer.”
L Catterton’s Asia chairman and managing partner Ravi Thakran added that it was attracted to Owndays by its innovation, quality service and “boldly exceeding” consumer expectations.
While the news marked L Catterton’s inaugural investment in Japan, it was not its first foray into the Asian eyewear market, having inked a 2017 deal with quirky South Korean sunglasses firm Gentle Monster, becoming the brand’s second largest shareholder.
Beyond Asia, the consumer-focused private equity firm, which boasts $15 billion in dedicated capital, boosted Jessica Alba’s ethical beauty brand The Honest Co. to the tune of $200 million earlier this year and has also invested in British activewear brand Sweaty Betty and stationary bike start-up Peloton.
The firm expanded considerably in 2016 when it joined forces with Bernard Arnault’s L Capital. The French fashion tycoon’s LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and his family holding company, Groupe Arnault, own 40 percent of the investment house.