PPM exits fashion chains

PPM Ventures has realised its investment in Sierra Group, the holding company for the high street fashion chains, Oasis and Coast. The Baugur Group, the Icelandic retail group and investment company, is acquiring Sierra for £152m.

PPM acquired Oasis Stores just two years ago in 2001 in a £54m take-private transaction. The original transaction enabled the founders of the business to exit and to allow the development of Oasis and Coast away from the short-term pressures of being a publicly quoted company. PPM backed the existing management team led by Derek Lovelock, chief executive, who will remain with the business following Baugur’s acquisition.

In the two years under PPM’s ownership both Oasis and Coast have achieved significant growth in sales and profitability. The number of Oasis outlets in the UK has increased from 130 to 189 and Coast has achieved a complete turnaround to become a profitable business and recently won the “Rising Star” award at the Retail Week awards.

Gareth Whiley, director of PPM Ventures, said: “We are delighted by the success of our investment in Oasis and Coast. We recognised the potential of the two brands and their excellent management team in 2001 and it has been a pleasure being involved in bringing that potential to fruition. We are positive that both the team and the brands will flourish with their new partner Baugur and we wish them every success.”

The sale of Sierra represents the second successful exit made by PPM from an investment acquired in a public-to-private transaction, the first being the sale of Fired Earth, an interior retailer, to Aga in 2002. Other public-to-private deals completed by PPM include Norbain, Ambishus and the first public-to-private transaction in Australia, Just Jeans, another fashion retailer.