Fenn Wright Manson shareholders agree sale to Darwin Private Equity


Darwin Private Equity ("Darwin") has today acquired Fenn Wright Manson, a leading British womenswear brand in the retail and wholesale market with stores and concessions in the UK and abroad.

Established in 1974, Fenn Wright Manson has successfully developed a reputation for high quality, innovative and timeless designs. It has 12 independent boutique stores and 61 concessions in department stores across the UK and Ireland, employing a total of 400 people. The London-based design team produces individual collections appealing to women of all ages and suitable for a wide range of occasions.

Colin Fenn, one of Fenn Wright Manson’s Founders, will be stepping down as Managing Director with effect from today but will leave behind him a strong management team and a financially healthy and rapidly growing company. Darwin is planning to build on this firm foundation and accelerate the company’s development with more stand alone stores and expansion of the already successful petite range launched in Autumn 2009.

Colin Fenn, commenting on the sale said: "I am exceptionally proud to have been involved in building such a wonderful business over the past 36 years with a truly fantastic team of people. I am sure that Darwin will be a good partner for the business and I share their vision of its potential. I will be sure to keep in touch and will enjoy watching the business continue to progress and succeed."

Darwin is backing the long standing existing management team of Patrick Hollwey, Claire Lawrence, Sharon Jones, Anju Mahbubani and Maggie Chan who have all reinvested in the business. In addition, Darwin has appointed Louise Barnes to be Executive Chairman and Sheila Wye as Finance Director.

Louise has extensive experience across the retail sector, most recently as Chief Executive of Fat Face where she led the business’s successful growth from 2003 to 2010. Prior to Fat Face Louise was Brand Director for Monsoon presiding over its successful rebranding and expansion. Sheila has extensive financial experience, most recently working as Finance Director of Gold Group International, a diverse portfolio of companies, also family-owned, and including Knickerbox and Ann Summers.

Jonathan Kaye, Partner of Darwin Private Equity, commented: "Fenn Wright Manson is a fantastic business, and we see great potential for further development. The business has a strong and experienced management team in place which will be further enhanced by the addition of Louise and Sheila. We look forward to working with them to invest in and develop this exciting opportunity, whilst retaining Fenn Wright Manson’s reputation for quality built up over many years."

The vendors were advised by Andrea Errington of Carabid Consultants LLP.

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