Close Brothers sells Hillarys Blind

Close Brothers Private Equity (CBPE) has sold its 45% stake in Hillarys Blind, UK’s largest supplier of domestic made-to-measure window blinds, in a £115m deal. Close Brothers Private Equity VI made a 4x return on the sale to Change Capital Partners, the firm set-up by chairman and former CEO of Marks and Spencer Luc Vandevelde in January 2003.

When CBPE invested, Hillarys had recorded sales of £55m and profits of £6.5m. For the current year to September 2004 sales should reach £85m and EBIT approaching £14m. At the original buyout, CBPE held a 58% share, but this was ratcheted down to 45% at exit. Founder Tony Hillary sold his 10% stake and management team sold its 45% stake but has reinvested a portion back into the company.

Change Capital Partners was founded in January 2003 by Vandevelde, chairman, Steven Petrow, former MD of Bain Capital, and Frederic Hufkens, founder of Hufkens Asset Management & Co. An initial €300m was committed to Change Capital by the Halley family, a leading shareholder in retail group Carrefour.

In addition to the core fund, a further €700m of funding is available for co-investment in specific investment opportunities from the Halley family and other strategic investors.

In March 2004 Change Capital made its first acquisition in Robert Dyas, the hardware and DIY retailer, for £61m.