Oct 28, 2016
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Owners of jeweller Thom Europe tap banks for sale or IPO

Oct 28, 2016

The owners of Thom Europe are considering new ownership options to help finance expansion across Europe, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Thom Europe

Thom, which is majority owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint alongside France-based Apax, says it is the leading jewellery chain in Europe. It is currently interviewing banks to advise it on a possible sale or initial public offering, the sources said.

Such a process, known as a "dual-track" to explore both exit routes, would probably kick off early next year, according to one of the sources, who noted that the company expected to appoint an advisor soon.

Officials at Thom Europe and Apax were not immediately available for comment while Bridgepoint declined to comment.

Spokesmen from Thom's other backers, Altamir and Qualium Investissement, were also not immediately available.

Following recent acquisitions in Italy and Germany, Thom expects to have annual sales of more than 620 million euros (£557.22 million) with close to 1,000 stores and e-commerce sites and over 5,000 employees.

The company - which operates in the market for affordable, rather than luxury goods - is expected to draw interest from other private equity funds, who could take over from Bridgepoint and Apax and help drive expansion across Europe, the source said. It could also appeal to Asian investors, he said.

Alternatively, Thom could explore a stock market listing in Paris, home to luxury groups such as LVMH and Kering.

Created from the 2010 merger of French chains Histoire d'Or and Marc Orian, Thom Europe purchased Italy's Stroili earlier this year. Thom said earlier this month that it was buying Germany's Oro Vivo.

"After consolidating the French market, the group is now the natural consolidator for the entire European market," Thom Chief Executive Romain Peninque said in a statement on Oct. 14, which added that the newly enlarged company planned to continue to develop the identity of its brands and expand in a growing European market - in stores and online.

Despite a large retail footprint, Thom does not yet rank as one of Western Europe's top 10 jewellery chains by retail sales, as tracked by Euromonitor International. That list is dominated by luxury groups like Cartier-owner Richemont, Pandora and Bulgari-owner LVMH.

Makers of luxury watches and jewellery were hurt this year by weaker demand in Europe, which drew fewer tourists following attacks in Paris and Brussels.

The global retail market for jewellery is expected to top $315 billion this year, according to Euromonitor, with nearly two-thirds of that coming from the Asia Pacific region. Western European sales are expected to touch $28 billion.


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