Entrepreneur Luke Johnson’s private equity firm, Risk Capital Partners, has purchased online garden centre retailer, primrose.co.uk, from parent company, Meika Ltd. There is no external bank debt and Primrose will continue to trade as normal.
Seeing how Brits have been bitten by the gardening bug during lockdown, the acquisition of Primrose is Mr Johnson’s first since buying bowling group, All Star Lanes, which ran into difficulties due to coronavirus restrictions.
This latest deal involves a pre-pack administration of Meika, with its operating subsidiary sold as a going concern.
The deal will bring new investment which will enable Primrose to “further capitalise on the significant growth the company is experiencing at present, following the launch of its new plant and garden product categories and the general growth in online sales”.
Launched in 2003 from a base in Reading, Primrose now has 20 million registered customers in the UK and Europe. The company sold a majority stake to Rockpool Investments, a private equity firm, in 2018.
Sales have been strong this year, with physical garden centres forced to close during one of their peak trading periods in Spring. It is therefore unclear why insolvency became a necessary process for the retailer. Sources informed Sky News that the pre-pack had been undertaken by FRP Advisory after Cavendish Corporate Finance was appointed during the summer to run a sale process for Primrose.
Risk Capital is also an investor in the parent company of Gail’s bakery chain. Earlier this year it sold off swimwear brand, Zoggs. A former chairman of Channel 4 and currently a columnist for the Sunday Times, Mr Johnson was previously rocked by a huge fraud scandal at Patisserie Valerie’s parent company in 2019.