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Eschenbach Group acquires International Eyewear Limited

23 sept. 2008

Eschenbach Group is acquiring International Eyewear Limited, one of Great Britain"™s leading suppliers of eyewear and prescription sunglasses. For more than ten years Eschenbach is already England"™s market leader for optical low vision aids. The acquisition of International Eyewear Limited henceforth gives the Nuremberg-based company access to the attractive English market for spectacle frames. Now, Eschenbach will cover the entire European market for eyewear and optical equipment. Barclays Private Equity, the company"™s majority stakeholder with 70% since July 2007, supports the growth strategy of the Eschenbach Group management team. The parties agreed to keep the purchase price confidential.

Majority holder Barclays Private Equity supports the buy and build strategy

International Eyewear Limited, founded in 1988, supplies over 90% of independent optical specialists and the majority of English trade chains with high-quality eyewear, sunglasses and other optical products. The company generates annual sales of around €10 million with successful house brands such as Hero, Episode, Zoffani, Ocean Blue and Dakota. It also sells children’s eyewear, including the popular licensed brands Bratz and Star Wars. The family-owned company will continue to be managed by the next generation following the transaction to ensure the continuity and success of this established business.

The buyer is the Nuremburg-based Eschenbach Group. In 2007, the company generated around €100 million from the sale of high-quality spectacle frames, sunglasses, vision aids, fashion glasses and technical optics. The company’s business has continued its positive development since being acquired by Barclays Private Equity, with further increases in sales. The acquisition of International Eyewear Limited is a logical step in the Group's plan to further its international development through acquisitions and organic revenue growth.

“We are excited to have taken this important step towards further internationalisation and expansion with the acquisition of International Eyewear. Up to now, we lacked a strong presence in this important market in Great Britain. We plan to continue this buy and build strategy together with our partner Barclays Private Equity,” said Wolfgang Rebstock, Chairman of the Management Board at Eschenbach Group.

“As a family-owned company, it is especially important for us to have found a buyer whom we can trust completely, and whose corporate strategy involves the maintenance and expansion of our business. Eschenbach Group is the perfect match in both regards. We are confident that we will make a lasting contribution to the success of this group,” remarked Phillip Abel, former owner of International Eyewear Limited.

“We started at Eschenbach in order to help the management team achieve their strategically planned growth also by acquiring established companies. We have taken the first step with International Eyewear Limited. Other acquisitions will follow,” said Michael H. Bork, Managing Director of Barclays Private Equity Germany.

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