Designer sunglasses retailer Shade Station snapped up in £10m transaction

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An online retailer of designer sunglasses, watches and prescription glasses has been acquired for £10m.

Altrincham-headquartered Shade Station has been bought by Internet Fusion Group (IFG), a fast-growing ecommerce business which sells outdoor and fashionwear and has been growing through a buy-and-build strategy.

IFG secured a loan of £13.7m from Hawkwing to fund the acquisition of Shade Station as well as Northcore, a surf and adventure sports gear brand.

Shade Station was founded in May 2000 by David Allen and Jocelyn Anders, and is one of the UK’s largest independent online retailers of affordable sunglasses from brands including Tom Ford, Chanel, Dior, Gucci and Prada as well as trend led accessories.

David Allen and Jocelyn Anders

The company has also been ramping up its international sales and trades globally including to South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Denmark, Poland, Canada and India.

Shade Station also operates an onsite optical glazing lab which offers single vision prescription lenses in more than 5,000 designer glasses across 100 brands.

The company generated unaudited revenues of £14.5m and EBITDA of £2.3m for the year ended 30 April 2021.

IFG has paid an initial consideration of £10m on a debt and cash free basis.

There is a conditional earnout of up to £5m, depending on the future trading performance an IFG expects that the Shade Station earnout will be largely self-funding.

John Browett, executive chairman of Internet Fusion Group, said: “These acquisitions represent another significant step in the execution of our buy-and-build strategy.

“We have a compelling track record of acquiring profitable specialty retailers and transforming their performance and growth prospects through our Reactor platform, and we look forward to accelerating the future performance of Northcore and Shade Station.

“Both are fantastic businesses which offer authentic online retail experiences for people browsing for high-quality products from like-minded brands.

“Separately, the investments in our business by Hawkwing and Marshall Wace demonstrate strong investor confidence in our model, and I am excited by the momentum we continue to build in the market.”

Keith Sadler, senior independent non-executive director of Hawkwing, said:  “We are delighted to support IFG in its buy-and-build strategy and on its acquisition of Northcore and Shade Station, two businesses that expand and enhance IFG’s suite of well-respected speciality e-commerce businesses.

“As IFG continues to expand, the investment from Marshall Wace is another strong endorsement of its business quality, its management team and their growth strategy.

“Our proposed acquisition of IFG continues to progress and we look forward to updating the market in due course.”

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