Alchemy sells high-street jewellers

Alchemy Partners, the UK private equity house, has sold its 43.5% stake in jewellery retailer Goldsmiths, making a profit of about £50m.

The company was bought by Icelandic retail-sector Baugur for £110m, who will have a 55% interest. Jurek Piasecki, chairman and chief executive of Goldsmiths, will continue in both roles under the new ownership structure.

Piasecki is diluting the majority of his 50.5% share in Goldsmiths, leaving him with a 15% stake after investing £9m in the company as part of the new deal. He is reported to be making £27m from the transaction. The other members of the management team will slightly increase their stake to about 6%.

Bank of Scotland and Icelandic bank Landsbanki Islands are providing the £80m senior debt with BoS also taking a small equity stake.

Since Alchemy bought Goldsmiths, the company’s turnover has grown by 76% to £160m, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation have climbed 77% to £17m. Baugur aims to increase the number of shops in the chain, from its current 165 to beyond 200, and also plans to take the brand into Europe.

Alchemy invested £25.1 million from the Alchemy Investment Plan 1999-2000 in May 1999 and held 43.5% of the equity. The rest of the funding came from management, who contributed £5.6m, a senior debt of £33m and working capital of £13m.

This is the second time Jon Moulton of Alchemy has sold Goldsmith. He led a buyout of the business in 1988 when he was at Schroder Ventures (now Permira). The company floated in 1990 and went private nine years later.