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Private equity in action - Case Study


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Country Netherlands
Region Noord-Holland
Investor The Carlyle Group

When Carlyle invested in Hunkemöller in 2016, the business was already a pan-European lingerie brand with leading market positions in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Over the following 18 months, Carlyle helped the company expand across Europe both in existing and new markets by opening additional 112 stores, increasing e-commerce sales from 7% to 11% of total sales and creating more than 700 new jobs. Hunkemöller now operates more than 800 stores and employs approximately 5,200 people.

In partnership with management, Carlyle initiated strategical initiatives for the years to come, including the development of a separate sportswear brand (HKMX), expansion beyond Europe and the incorporation of environmental, social and governance best practice into the supply chain.

Philip Mountford



We are successfully leveraging Carlyle’s global network, its extensive experience and expertise in the retail fashion sector to accelerate our international expansion. Quotation Marks Graphic

new stores in 18 months


new jobs created

What did the business need?

  • Capital and the right financing structure to accelerate expansion across Europe
  • Ongoing commercial and strategic sparring partner
  • International network and expertise

How did private equity backing create lasting value?

  • Accelerated European expansion by opening 112 stores in just 18 months; became market leader (#1) in Germany
  • Accelerated e-commerce/omni-channel growth
  • Brought in senior industry advisors, transferring knowledge from the US retail market to Hunkemöller
  • Developed second, separate store format with Hunkemöller’s sportswear brand HKMX, providing additional growth opportunities
  • Developed expansion strategy for entering new or under-penetrated European countries
  • Developed market entry strategies for countries beyond Europe by leveraging Carlyle’s global network and expertise
  • Developed new supplier policies to ensure responsible chemical management

What outcomes did private equity investment achieve?

  • Grew store numbers by 16% to over 800 in just 18 months
  • Increased sales by 15% to over €430m
  • Increased EBITDA by 25% to more than €69m
  • Added 700 new jobs, a 15% increase
  • Signed Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector to encourage sustainable international supply chains
  • 95% of suppliers included in responsible management auditing process

More information

The Carlyle Group



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