LONDON — Tom and Ruth Chapman, the husband-and-wife team that founded Matchesfashion.com, confirmed Monday that they will become executive chairmen of the business, and hand over the role of chief executive officer to Ulric Jerome, who is currently chief operating officer.
This story first appeared in the July 14, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In a joint statement, the couple said: “This is very natural evolution: When Ulric Jerome joined two years ago, the intention was always that he would become ceo. This has now been formalized, and we are becoming executive chairmen.
“We do, of course, remain completely committed and involved in the strategic development of the business, and how we keep innovating and driving Matchesfashion.com forward.”
The Chapmans said Jerome “built up the e-commerce team and undertook a complete tech overhaul of the business, launching a new, fully responsive site in April, further enabling the business to realize its future growth aspirations.”
In May, Tom Chapman denied a British press report that his company had hired Morgan Stanley to look at “strategic options” for the business that could result in a sale.
In May, Chapman told WWD: “Naturally, we are regularly assessing our strategic options for the business, but there is no ongoing process at present. We have obviously been observing the latest industry developments, and will always evaluate the options and what’s best for the business long term, especially in the light of our continuing excellent performance and growth.”
The Chapmans own the majority of the company with Scottish Equity Partners as a minority shareholder.
The couple founded Matches as a brick-and-mortar shop in Wimbledon in 1987, and went on to open four more stores in upscale neighborhoods across London. In 2007, Matches launched what is now a thriving online site, generating 80 percent of overall sales. As of 2013, the entire business has been known as Matchesfashion.com.
In April, Jerome told audiences at the WWD Digital Summit in London that the Matchesfashion business is an increasingly international one, with just 30 percent of sales coming from the U.K.
The U.S. is Matchesfashion’s second-largest market and grew by 87 percent last year, while Asia more than doubled in the past year.