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Figleaves bought for £11.5m

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Lingerie website has been bought for £11.5m by home shopping business N Brown Group. The move, says N Brown Group, will make it the UK’s number one online lingerie seller., previously owned by Figleaves Global Trading, stocks more than 100 brands, receives more than 1.2m customer visits each month, and delivers lingerie, underwear and swim wear to more than 100 countries, including the US. Forecast turnover for the year to June 2010 is £23m. It was founded in 1998 by Daniel Nabarro, and current chief executive Julia Reynolds joined from Tesco, where she created the Florence and Fred brand.

At N Brown Group, Figleaves will sit alongside more than 30 internet and catalogue home shopping brands including JD Williams, Marisota, and Home Shopping Direct. Other recent acquisitions by the brand include the High and Mighty group, bought in September 2009. In its end-of-year results, N Brown said e-commerce now accounted for 39% of its total revenues.

Today it said the addition of would add a “younger and more premium” group of shoppers to its clientele. It also aims to work with the existing management team to integrate and grow the business, using N Brown’s scale to bring further benefits. Cross-selling opportunities with other clothing and footwear ranges are also envisaged.

Alan White, chief executive of N Brown, said: “We are thrilled to welcome figleaves to our portfolio of brands and are very excited about this acquisition which strengthens our position as the UK’s largest online retailer of lingerie. It also demonstrates our commitment to continue to expand the e-commerce proportion of our business and to extend our product offers and customer base.”

Our view: At first glance, this seems something of an odd acquisition for seller and buyer alike. Figleaves, with its brand value of ‘moments of luxury for all’ could hardly be a more different fashion site than N Brown’s flagship site JD Williams, which today invites its customers to ‘dress for less’.

But certainly the move will take N Brown’s portfolio somewhat upmarket – in its announcement today the company said the addition of Figleaves would bring it more premium customers. It’ll be interesting to see how much change integration into the new stable brings to what’s been described as a “global leader” in lingerie sales.

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