Silverfleet’s OFFICE Appoints to Board

London-based Footwear retailer OFFICE, backed by European private equity firm Silverfleet Capital has appointed Allan Leighton as non-executive chairman. This is the second senior appointment to the board after Ian Findlay joined as finance director in September.


Young fashion footwear retailer OFFICE, backed by Silverfleet Capital the European private equity firm, today reported a 26pc growth in like-for-like sales in the 5 weeks to 31st Dec 2011 and a significant appointment to its board. Allan Leighton has been appointed as non-executive chairman. This is the second senior appointment to the board after Ian Findlay joined as finance director in September.

For the same period last year the business reported like-for-like sales growth of 19.41pc.

Both Allan and Ian have considerable expertise in the retail sector. Previously Allan was CEO of Asda, and chairman of the Royal Mail and holds several non-executive positions. Ian was the former finance director and managing director of young fashion brand Jane Norman.

CEO Brian McCluskey said: “The business has been performing strongly all year, with 12 month like-for-like growth in excess of 15pc (PY comparative 11.4pc). During 2011 we have opened 8 stores and 8 concessions and all have traded significantly ahead of expectations. This is a very credible performance particularly in the current environment and is testament to the incredible team of people we have here at OFFICE and the fantastic brands and suppliers we work with.

“Over the coming 12 months we will look at opening between 6-8 stores and continue to invest heavily in our web business.

“In addition Allan and Ian’s appointments are good news for OFFICE. Both are experienced operators who will have much to contribute to our ongoing expansion. We look forward to the next phase of our development.”

OFFICE first opened in 1981 and has since grown to 84 stand-alone stores in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and 52 concessions in House of Fraser, Topshop (including New York and Chicago) and Topman, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, and has a fast-growing internet business. The business retails a selection of the best footwear brands available as well as its own-branded shoes, primarily under brands such as “OFFICE”, Ask the Missus” and “Poste”.

“Office has built a great brand, known by anyone looking for fashionable shoes, because it understands the customer’s desires and needs. There is still significant opportunity for further growth and I ’m looking forward to helping Brian and his team build the business further.” Allan Leighton said.

For further information please contact Equity Dynamics:
Jane Kirby: +44 (0) 7825 326 441
Emily Weston: +44 (0) 7825 326 442

Notes to editors:
OFFICE currently retails from 84 stand-alone sites including; 4 in Eire, 3 Offspring and a Poste & Poste Mistress boutique. Our concessions include; 29 House of Fraser, 11 Topshop & Topman (including NYC and Chicago), 7 Harvey Nichols and 5 Selfridges. In addition to our stores we have a thriving mail order and worldwide website business – OFFICE remains a firm favourite with the fashion-pack.
OFFICE first opened 1981 as ‘Office London’ with a concession in the shopping mecca Hyper Hyper. The first stand-alone OFFICE store opened on Kings Road in 1984, followed by sites in Charing Cross Road and High Street Kensington.
OFFICE continued to grow throughout the Eighties, encompassing every major shopping area in London including Covent Garden, Camden and Portobello Road. By 1995 the chain had acquired stores on prestigious South Molton Street and Neal Street, Covent Garden.
February 1996 saw the launch of Offspring situated in London’s Covent Garden. It was a pioneering new concept encouraged by the sports footwear industry, devoted to revolutionising the world of fashion sports retailing and underpinned by the existing creative and commercial success that had kept OFFICE at the fore-front of the fashion footwear market over the last ten years. A further two stand alone Offspring stores soon followed in Camden and Brighton. Riding on the success of such an innovative brand, 2006 saw Offspring open concessions within the prestigious department store Selfridges in London and Manchester.
In 2000, Poste was launched, an up market men’s boutique offering a selection of designer men’s shoes in an environment synonymous of a typical gentleman’s club. Since then concessions have been launched in Harvey Nichols stores nationwide.
By July 2001, Poste Mistress the sister store arrived and soon became the essential ladies footwear boutique in Covent Garden. Both stores boast a celebrity clientele that reads like an A -Z of who’s who in the showbiz world. Paris Hilton, David and Victoria Beckham, Helena Christiansen, Keira Knightly and Kelly Brook to name a few.
In 2004, OFFICE moved over-seas opening their first stand-alone store in Dublin. Since then four further branches have opened in Dublin and Belfast.
Silverfleet Capital
Silverfleet Capital is a mid-market European private equity firm that specialises
in “buy to build” investments. “Buy to Build” describes the approach that Silverfleet takes to creating value in its investee companies which includes: accelerating organic growth through investment in new people, new products and new or bigger production facilities; rolling out successful formats in new locations; or driving growth by making follow-on acquisitions, now widely referred to as buy & build.
Silverfleet backed companies have made in excess of 100 add-on acquisitions since 2000.
An active European mid-market private equity investor for more than twenty five years, Silverfleet Capital has a consistently strong investment track record. Notable exits include TMF, the global independent administrators (6.2x cost), Phadia, the world’s leading allergy diagnostics company (4.8x cost), Histoire d’Or, the European jewellery retailer (3.2x cost), Sterigenics International Inc and European Dental Partners.
Silverfleet Capital’s current €670m fund is now 39% invested and includes the following portfolio companies:
• Aesica, the pharmaceutical contract manufacturing organisation (October 2011)
• Office, the UK footwear business (December 2010)
• Schneider, a leading German catalogue and on-line retailer of fashion, lifestyle and promotional products (October 2010)
• Kalle, a leading global producer of artificial sausage casings (September 2009)
Silverfleet Capital manages approximately 1 billion euros (US$1.32 billion) and has offices in London, Paris, Munich and Chicago. This office network enables Silverfleet Capital to execute complex, multi-jurisdictional investments as well as to support investee companies with both domestic and international buy & build strategies.