Risk Capital Partners buys stake in UK swimwear maker Zoggs

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luke-johnson_sqRisk Capital Partners, the private equity firm chaired by serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson, pictured, has acquired a majority stake in international swimwear brand Zoggs.

The price of the deal wasn’t disclosed. Zoggs’s current management team, headed up by managing director Mark Hammersley, will stay on. Hammersley has run the business for the past 13 years.

Separately, Risk Capital revealed that it is currently investing RCP II, a ten-year, £75m fund, which is to include a £25m contribution from Risk Capital itself.

Investors include pension funds, life companies and specialist fund investors, a Risk Capital spokeswoman said.

Risk is buying Zoggs from the Kendal Group, a Surrey-based investment vehicle controlled by brothers Daniel and Leo Gestetner, which acquired it in 2003.

Zoggs makes bathing costumes and goggles, and was founded in Sydney, Australia in 1992. It claims to sell more than 2.5 million pairs of goggles through shops in some 50 countries.

The company says one of its secrets to establishing a major position in the UK leisure centre market was its strategy of supplying the majority of UK leisure centres with products.

In recent years it has moved into many of the UK’s high street shops, as well as onto the websites of online retailers.

The Zoggs acquisition marks Risk Capital’s first foray into sporting goods, but a return to retail.

Johnson is a well-known figure in British financial circles, where he’s known for having been involved in putting such restaurant brands as Strada, Pizza Express and Patisserie Valerie onto the British high street, as well as having been involved in founding the Signature restaurant group, famed for The Ivy and Le Caprice.

For eight years until this January Johnson wrote a column entitled The Entrepreneur for The Financial Times Newspaper, and since February, he’s been penning a new column for the rival Times newspaper, called Animal Spirits. Perhaps not surprisingly, The Sunday Times broke the story of Risk Capital Partners’ stake in Zoggs.

Johnson’s enthusiasm for Zoggs’s products had its origins in his passion for swimming, which he says he does regularly. Having considered the company’s prospects regularly from the wet side of a swimming pool, he says foresees “sustained long term growth in the global swimming market, supported by favourable demographics for this low impact exercise, as well as shifting cultural attitudes to swimming across the Far East and Middle East”.

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