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Kathmandu Group, a New Zealand-headquartered outdoor and travel retailer with stores in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, has been sold to private equity investors for approximately $174 million USD. Investment bank Goldman Sachs JBWere, through its Hauraki Private Equity No.2 Fund, and buyout firm Quadrant Private Equity will each take a 25.5 percent stake in Kathmandu, the largest retailer of its kind in Australasia. Company founder Jan Cameron of New Zealand will retain a 49 percent share of the company. Cameron is reported to be the wealthiest woman in New Zealand.
Cameron launched the company in Melbourne, Australia, almost 20 years ago, out of her apartment while she was in medical school. In a tale that is not unfamiliar to other outdoor companies around the world, Cameron was an avid mountaineer at the time who started making her own gear because she couldn’t find what she wanted or needed. She started selling that gear to friends, and the rest is history.
Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking managing director Clark Perkins has indicated that the new owners have a five-year plan for the business, focusing on opening new stores in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where the company currently has four outlets. He also indicated the desire to grow into the Northern Hemisphere — perhaps beyond the UK.
Kathmandu is a 100-percent private-label business, which was attractive to the investors as Perkins was quoted in financial reports as saying the company sees the high-end apparel and equipment market as a growth opportunity.
Kathmandu now has 46 stores in New Zealand, Australia and the UK with a head office in Christchurch, New Zealand, a second headquarters and distribution center in Melbourne dedicated to the Australian market, and a third distribution center in London, dedicated to the UK market growth.