TA buys online clothing retail

The London office of Boston-based buyout firm TA Associates has completed the secondary buyout of M&M Direct from UK mid-market firm ECI Partners. Deal terms were not disclosed but the sale price is understood to have been in the region of £90m.

M&M was founded in 1987 as M&M Sports, selling solely sports apparel, but has expanded to become an online and mail order retailer of discounted lifestyle, fashion and sports apparel and footwear under ECI’s ownership.

London and Manchester-based ECI Partners backed the buyout of M&M Sports in August 2004 for an undisclosed sum. At the time, ECI said that the business had turnover of approximately £40m (US$82m) and underlying Ebit of £5m in the year to end-February 2004.

ECI said that, since its investment, sales had grown to £80m a year, with profit growth of 28% per annum. In the same period, the number of staff has doubled from 300 to 600.

Mike Tomkins, who led the business under ECI’s ownership, has handed over his position as chief executive to Steve Robinson, formerly CEO of Tesco Direct, but will remain a non-executive director.

According to internet research group IMRG, online shopping in the UK is expected to reach sales of £42bn in 2007, up 39% from £30.2bn in 2006. By 2010, that figure is expected to reach £78bn.