Gimv sells stake in the Wolf Lingerie Group, the owner of Sans Complexe, the fourth largest brand in the French market

10/03/2022 - 07:30 | Portfolio

Gimv announced today that it has sold its majority stake in the Wolf Lingerie Group to the NextStage fund, through the Pépites & Territoires by AXA France & NextStage AM programme, and to its co-investors (BNP Développement and BPI), along with the management team led by Jean François Mialon.

Wolf Lingerie (www.wolflingerie.com), with headquarters in La Wantzenau (Alsace), was established in 1947 in Strasbourg. The group is the French market leader for lingerie for women with fuller busts with its Sans Complexe brand, which was launched in 1998. With over 2.2 million consumers, Sans Complexe is a real success story, becoming the 4th largest brand in France across all channels in just a few years.

It was also the first lingerie brand to state unequivocally that ‘Size 0 is obsolete’ in 2010. Since then, Sans Complexe has enjoyed undisputed legitimacy as a brand, reaping the benefits of its body positivity values, successful marketing overhaul and digital roll-out, while retaining its extremely attractive price/quality positioning. For many years, the brand was only available in superstores. Since then, its offering has been expanded and segmented to cater to the needs of women with fuller busts. Today it is a brand with an omnichannel strategy (including selective distribution networks, department stores and retailers) and international ambitions, that has expanded in e-commerce - which accounts for 15% of its revenue - through its own website and large online marketplaces.

Thanks to Gimv, the Wolf Lingerie Group’s business model has undergone a complete operational transformation, adopting some of the highest standards in the industry in terms of ESG, HR, sourcing, logistics and information systems.

Boasting strong fundamentals and posting a triple net turnover of EUR 43 million in 2021, the Group is now in an ideal position to embark on the next phase of its development, capitalising on growth projects that were initiated in the past few years, in e-commerce or in terms of its European expansion. 

Jean-François Mialon, CEO of Wolf Lingerie, says: “The past years have been very exciting. We received unwavering support from Gimv every step of the way. They were trusted partners, with whom we were able to modernise our Group. We are delighted to take our adventure a step further with NextStage, whose strong regional roots and digital experience are a perfect fit as we enter the next stage of our development.”

Anne Caron and Guillaume Bardy, Partners at Gimv Consumer, add: “We are very happy to have shared this adventure. In a market context that was marked by several upheavals, Jean François Mialon’s team has succeeded in transforming the company with flair and determination, adapting it to modern times and turning Sans Complexe into a real Direct To Consumer brand. This success story is completely in line with the ambitions and the know-how of Gimv’s Consumer platform.”

Stéphane Becker of Capital Grand Est, a minority investor that is also selling its stake during this transaction, adds: “Wolf Lingerie has made impressive progress and we are proud to have supported Gimv and the management team in achieving this resounding success.”

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