GO Outdoors

Region: UK
Sector: Consumer

Nature of Business

Sheffield-based GO Outdoors is the UK's largest specialist retailer of camping equipment, tents, outdoor clothing and footwear. Since its establishment in 1998, the company has grown to 45 retail outlets across the UK with more than 1,800 employees. In the year to January 2013, GO Outdoors achieved total sales of over £200 million, boosted by a fast-growing online capability.

The management team has delivered rapid growth for GO Outdoors in recent years, through a strategy of locating its stores in large out-of-town locations and offering an authoritative range of products at highly competitive prices. The company plans to continue its aggressive store opening programme over the coming years.

To support these plans, we have recruited blue chip retail experience in key roles on the board, to support the founder entrepreneurs, Paul Caplan and John Graham. This culminated in the appointment in 2013 of Chris Matthews as CEO, after an impressive career at Marks & Spencer and Dixons.

Investment Overview

We invested £28m for a minority stake in GO Outdoors in April 2011. We are working with the GO Outdoors management team to drive growth through its differentiated business model. This includes new store rollouts, the maturing of recently opened stores and an expanding e-commerce business, to take market share and create a 'category killing' retailer.

We have also been active in supporting investment in the company’s infrastructure. In particular, our experience in supply chain transformation and our network in Asia has helped GO Outdoors establish an in-house own brand capability and a sourcing office in Shanghai.  Most recently, our financing expertise helped the company secure additional debt facilities to support continued store roll-out.

Through our Business Leaders Network, the management team has been strengthened by appointing Colin Holmes as Chairman. Colin joined after a long and successful career at Tesco, where he led the expansion of the superstore and convenience stores businesses, before delivering transformational change in the supply chain for fresh produce.

Regulatory notice: This transaction involved a recommendation of 3i Investments plc.

3i office contact

16 Palace St
London SW1E 5JD
Tel: +44 (0)20 7975 3131
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7975 3232

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