Change of ownership for Italy’s Unopiu

Change Capital Partners, a UK mid-market firm headed by former Marks and Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde, has partnered with Italian private equity house Synergo to make its first investment in the country.

Unopiu, an Italian manufacturer and retailer of outdoor furniture products, was purchased for an undisclosed sum, although a source close to the deal said the transaction had an enterprise value of about €115m (US$163m). The source added that the deal came about as a result of an auction process carried out by local intermediaries, although it is also understood that there has also been a working relationship at Bain Capital between Change Capital Partners managing director Steven Petrow and partners at Synergo.

Founded in 1978 by two Italian entrepreneurs as a manufacturer and retailer of wooden structures for pergolas and gazebos, Unopiu currently has 26 branded showrooms in major cities across Europe. The business has annual sales of €73m and an aggregate 17% share of the branded garden furniture market in Italy, France, Germany and Spain, as well as catalogue distributions in the Benelux countries and the UK, with licensing agreements in the UAE and Russia.

London-based Change Capital Partners specialises in branded goods and has made five previous investments, three in the UK as well as Danish leisurewear wholesaler Buksesnedkeren and German fashion house Jill Sander, a February 2006 acquisition from luxury goods giant Prada.