EQT to grow Plantasjen

EQT is to acquire the Plantasjen Group, a chain of gardening superstores in the Nordic region. The company’s management team, led by Tore Thorstensen, will remain in place and invest alongside EQT, working to expand the superstore group. Christian Sinding, a director of EQT, said the investor was working with Scandinavian banks to finance the acquisition and the company’s plans for future growth. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

Plantasjen, a Norwegian company, has 18 garden stores in Norway and nine in Sweden. These stores are the largest in the gardening retail sector and offer a wide range of products at low prices. The company’s sales have grown by an average of over 25 per cent a year since 1993 and are expected to reach NOK850 million (approximately euro106 million) this year. Two brothers with a gardening background founded the company in 1985. In 1993 the current CEO joined the company and Plantasjen entered a period of more rapid organic growth. EQT has acquired the company from the founders and a group of individuals not actively involved in Plantasjen’s management.

Over the next five years Plantasjen plans to double the number of stores and roll its concept out across the rest of the Nordic region. As part of this expansion plan the company recently acquired Sweden’s leading garden retail chain, Vxus. Plantasjen hopes to make further acquisitions in Norway, Sweden and Finland. These are likely to be smaller than Vxus, as the sector is fragmented. The group plans to open three new stores in Norway, and several in Sweden, over the next six months.

Tore Thorstensen, managing director of the Plantasjen group, says: “Plantasjen is currently in a very exciting phase of its development, and we are enthusiastic towards working with EQT in aggressively growing and developing the company. As a leading private equity player, EQT will be instrumental in supporting us in the process towards a future potential listing of Plantasjen.” Sinding said the possibility of an IPO would be reviewed in two years time.