Liberty London sold to new owners in £300m deal

Department store Liberty is to come under new ownership in a deal valuing the business at £300 million.

Private equity firm Bluegem confirmed on Friday that it would sell its roughly 40% stake in the company to a group led by Glendower Capital.

It is a significant mark-up on the £32 million which Bluegem paid for the business back in 2010.

In 2014, it sold a stake to some unnamed European and Middle East family investors, but remained the controlling shareholder.

The 144-year-old brand, famous for its mock-Tudor building in central London and signature fabric prints, had become loss-making prior to its acquisition by Bluegem.

Under the direct management of the firm, its underlying earnings have risen from almost zero in 2010 to £25 million last year.

Marco Capello of Bluegem, who serves as chairman of Liberty, said: “I am confident we have built a truly differentiated business and assembled a first-class management team that will allow Liberty to reclaim its status as one of the most iconic brands in the world, and the last truly heritage British brand.”

Mr Capello will stay on in his position, while all partners of Bluegem have co-invested in a personal capacity alongside Glendower.

The business will continue to be led by chief executive Adil Mehboob-Khan, former boss of Luxottica and Wella, who was appointed last year.

In recent years the heritage brand has made moves into new areas, such as online and digital capabilities.

Investment in this area has driven online revenues from £1 million to £14 million.

Meanwhile the eponymous accessories brand Liberty London, launched three years ago, is now generating £8 million of sales.

But the famous fabrics business is also still a core part of the business, with a compound annual growth rate of 11% since 2010.

Department store sales are also stronger, jumping from £36 million to £94 million.