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ABN AMRO Capital snaps up Jessops

Bridgepoint Capital has completed its tenth exit this year with the secondary buyout of Jessops by ABN AMRO Capital. The acquisition values the UK-based chain of photographic shops at GBP116 million. Raoul Hughes, a director of Bridgepoint Capital, said: “This has been a highly successful investment for us and we expect the business to continue to prosper with its new backers.” The deal has returned over three times the money invested by Bridgepoint.

Bridgepoint Capital invested in the company, previously under family ownership, in July 1996. Tim Brooks was introduced as non-executive chairman, a position he will continue to fill after this transaction. Bridgepoint’s equity position in the GBP42 million deal was later partly syndicated to PPM Ventures. The investors aborted plans for an IPO of Jessops a year ago because it did not believe the GBP90 million to GBP100 million valuation of the company represented its true value.

Founded in 1935, Jessops provides a range of photographic services and imaging equipment through stores, mail order and the Internet. It sells digital and conventional cameras, camcorders and accessories as well as offering developing and printing services. Under Bridgepoint’s ownership the number of Jessops stores has tripled to 236, operating under the Jessops, newTecno and Photozone brands. In the last three years Jessops has increased sales by 94 per cent to GBP242 million. The chain has also benefited from the 47 per cent rise in sales of digital cameras in the last year.

The group plans to open another 26 stores in the UK in the next two years and is considering expansion into Europe. By the end of this year Jessops plans to offer digital developing and processing services, the first retailer to do so. “The buyout by ABN AMRO Capital gives Jessops’ management and staff the opportunity to continue building a very good business which has consistently traded ahead of expectations during its time with Bridgepoint,” said Hughes.

Simon Tuttle and Dominic Collier of ABN AMRO Capital will join the company’s board. The deal is waiting for clearance from the European competition authorities and is expected to close by the end of October. Jessops existing bankers, HSBC, supported the deal with acquisition and working capital facilities. The bank was advised by Clifford Chance. ABN AMRO Capital was advised by CMC Cameron McKenna, PricewaterhouseCoopers and OC&C. Goldman Sachs and Eversheds acted for the vendors.