Game Set & Matches
30 years ago Tom and Ruth Chapman set up a fashion company in a shop in Wimbledon. Fast forward to today and the husband and wife team has just sold a majority stake in their business, Matchesfashion.com, to private equity firm Apax Partners which, according to reports, values the luxury fashion chain at £800m. The couple will net £400million from the sale but they will retain a minority interest in the company worth about £130m. As Mr Chapman explains, “After 30 years of growing this business Ruth and I are ready to take on new challenges while remaining shareholders and taking on an advisory role.” So what are Apax getting for their money? Matches employs 500 people and stocks and sells 400 brands including Gucci, Prada and Stella McCartney, as well as their own label Raey, to customers in 176 countries across the globe. Last year the company’s sales totalled £204million, 90% of which were made online. The remainder came from the luxury retailer’s stores in Marylebone, Notting Hill and Wimbledon, as well as No23, a “private-shopping townhouse” in Marylebone where clients, who typically spend £500 a visit, are entertained. Speaking about the sale, the couple said in a statement: “Matchesfashion.com has redefined the face of luxury commerce and become renowned globally for having the fashion point of view. The business has never been in a stronger position and we want to thank our loyal customers, the exceptional brands and the brilliant people who we are fortunate enough to work with. They inspire us every day to be better.” It is all a far cry from when Ruth was persuaded by Tom in 1987 to team up with him at his then struggling shop ‘Matches’ in Wimbledon. Clearly a match made in heaven.