Couple strike sale for around £800m

Tom and Ruth Chapman with designer Roksanda Ilincic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tom and Ruth Chapman, pictured here with designer Roksanda Ilincic (C) started their business 30 years ago

A fashion company started 30 years ago by a husband and wife from a shop in Wimbledon has just sold a majority stake in the business for £800m.

Private equity firm Apax Partners has acquired a holding in luxury fashion chain

Founders Tom and Ruth Chapman will continue to own minority stakes in the business.

Mr Chapman also said he and his wife would retain advisory roles with the company.

He said: "After 30 years of growing this business Ruth and I are ready to take on new challenges while remaining shareholders and taking on an advisory role."

The deal will hand the couple a significant windfall. Earlier this year, the Financial Times reported that they owned a 67% stake in the company.

Scottish Equity Partners and Highland Europe, which are existing venture capitalists in the business, will also continue to hold small stakes.

The deal has been agreed for an undisclosed sum but it has been widely reported at an estimated £800m.

Ulric Jerome, who joined in 2013 before taking over as chief executive from Mr and Mrs Chapman two years later, will stay on at the company along with chief financial officer Fiona Greiner.

The company employs around 500 people and has five shops in London, with plans to open another next year - this time in Mayfair.

It launched online a decade ago and now generates the majority of its revenue from the web. Representing around 450 established and new designers, delivers fashion to 176 countries.

Gabriele Cipparrone, a partner at Apax Partners, said: "Online penetration of the luxury market is still small and we anticipate this will grow significantly in the coming years."

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