ISIS Equity Partners has bought The Art Group, a business-to-business publisher of contemporary artists that provides high quality images to retailers such as IKEA and Habitat. The deal, worth £19m, was a secondary buyout from 3i, Apax, Graphite Capital and Prudential. The original investment in the business occurred some 15 years ago.
Royal Bank of Scotland has supported ISIS’ acquisition of the business. ISIS plans to continue expansion into the US, which is at an early stage and focus on The Art Group’s unique canvas products line. This line involves prints being placed on canvas, as opposed to poster boards and paper, and is currently rolled out in Habitat and IKEA stores.
There will also be a concentration on new media, which involves distribution of images through such outlets as Conde Nast online. David Sherratt, director of new investment at ISIS who led the transaction alongside investment director Dominic Ely, says the business will also focus on bringing in new distribution channels and new artists. The business is chicken and egg in this respect, whereby artists are attracted by good distribution and, vice versa, good artists attract distributors. Artists signed to The Art Group include photographers such as Jack Vettriano, Ann Magill, Herb Ritts and David Bailey.
Mark Turner, portfolio management director at ISIS, has been appointed to the board of The Art Group.