Baby and maternity clothing retailer JoJo Maman Bébé – whose clients include the Duchess of Cambridge – has been targeted by High Street Next and a group of investment firms.

Laura Tenison, who started her business in 1993 from a flat kitchen table and turned it into one of the UK’s leading mom and baby retailers, says the new owners have “interesting plans”. to expand and grow the brand much faster than we could, giving us the opportunity to open up in new markets.”

However, as part of the deal, she will be leaving the business.

Followed by 44% of the shares of the company, the remaining 56% are acquired by investment companies managed or advised by the hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management. Shares are acquired from existing JoJo shareholders including Tenison.

In addition to its website, JoJo Maman Bébé has 87 retail stores and employs more than 950 employees in the United Kingdom.

The Duchess of Cambridge wore JoJo Maman Bébé’s maternity clothes. Photo: Rex / Shutterstock

The company told employees that the new owners “want to keep our stores where they are already profitable,” adding that in the future “there may be opportunities for more stores.” [and] new international websites”.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed, and it is not known how much Tenison will receive for its controlling stake in the business.

Tenison started the business after a serious car accident while living in France left her hospitalized. In interviews, she said her partner is a young mother of two young children who always entertains by ordering from mail-order catalogs.

“[Living in rural France] I can’t help but notice how well-dressed children in France are. You’ll see them strolling along the beach with their grandparents no matter the weather, in great waterproof overalls and fisherman jackets, picking up stuff in the sand,” she said. told an interviewer in 2020.

Inspired by that, in 1993 she started the JoJo business from her flat in London, with her parents’ barn “warehouse” in south Wales.

The Duchess of Cambridge is pictured wearing many times a brand white coat and is also said to have bought some items for her daughterPrincess Charlotte.

Commenting on the acquisition, Tenison said: “Growing JoJo from a kitchen table start-up to the UK’s leading specialty mom and baby store brand has been my top priority for 30 years. past year. I am particularly proud of our achievements and excited by the opportunities this new partnership will bring for the future of the brand. ”

It’s important to Next and other companies, she told employees, “that we preserve our brand identity, values, and talent, while allowing JoJo to benefit from the economies of scale of the vehicle.” their bigger box… Next and DK [Davidson Kempner] just as we believe our stores are of great value to… business in general. ” She added that it will keep its own dedicated website.

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Gwynn Milligan, who joined JoJo Maman Bébé in 2017 as chief commercial officer, has taken over as chief executive officer and the other directors will hold their positions.

Next said the business will retain management autonomy and creative independence. Next, it will also invest £16.3 million in the brand, funded from the company’s own cash.

Simon Wolfson, Next’s chief executive officer, said: “We are excited to see what can be achieved through the combination of JoJo’s specialty product with Next’s infrastructure, and Davidson Kempner is our investment partner.”

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