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Lovehoney sells major stake as Bath sex toy firm celebrates Sunday Times exporter list spot

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Written by: Bath Chronicle | Posted 18 June 2018 7:00

Lovehoney sells major stake as Bath sex toy firm celebrates Sunday Times exporter list spot

Bath-based sex toy company Lovehoney has sold a major stake in its business to an evergreen investment company for an undisclosed amount.

Telemos Capital completed the move for the company, which aims to accelerate its plans for international growth and overtake Ann Summers as the UK's biggest erotic brand over the next few years.

Lovehoney co-founders Richard Longhurst and Neal Slateford will continue to lead day-to-day operations with Telemos’ executive chairman Philippe Jacobs and chief investment officer Jacob Polny joining the Lovehoney board.

Mr Longhurst said: “This is the culmination of 16 years of hard work by our brilliant teams in Bath and our offices worldwide. It has been a phenomenal journey for Neal and I and we're beyond excited at our future plans for Lovehoney.”

Mr Slateford praised Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding and erotic film trilogy Fifty Shades for the sex toy firm's success as it looks to expand in the city due to soaring overseas sales.

He said: “We're excited to be partnering with Telemos as we continue our strategy to grow Lovehoney into the world's leading sexual happiness retailer. This investment shows the strength of online retail and will allow us to break into new markets globally.”

Mr Slateford added the Locksbrook Road company, which has now won a place on the Sunday Times’ list of the UK’s fastest growing exporters after international sales rose by 47 per cent, was expanding in Europe, the US and Australia as it becomes more widely known.

Lovehoney, which employs 220 people in Bath, wants to grow staff levels further and has vacancies including product development, online trading and customer care roles.

It delivered record sales in the region of £100 million for the year ended March 2018. A total of 60 per cent of sales came from the UK, with the rest from Europe, the US and Australia.

The Sunday Times said the firm's new sites in Brisbane and Atlanta boosted exports to £26.2 million last year.

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Speaking just before the acquisition, Mr Slateford said: "Sales in Europe are up about 50 per cent and in the US and Australia by 70 per cent. We set up a warehouse in Brisbane three years ago and it's been a focus for us. We're opening a warehouse in Atlanta in August this year. The offering and market is huge there.

"Brisbane is well located for getting either side of Australia while Atlanta is right by a massive airport hub so it's great for shipping across the US.

"There will be some senior hires to beef up our operation in the US. We're always looking to grow the business. We're looking at rolling out new websites in the near future and have several vacancies at the moment."

Thousands of Duke and Duchess of Sussex-themed sex toys sold out after the nuptials and the firm's collaboration with author E L James, rock bands Motörhead and Mötley Crüe and Comedy Central for the hit TV show Broad City has increased sales in the US in particular.

Lovehoney has launched US, Australian, French and German websites and has gained from the popularity of Fifty Shades - worth millions of pounds to the company - as it holds the licence for all official pleasure products.

The firm has 11 different ranges covering the three books, with Fifty Shades of Grey first being published in 2011.

Mr Jacobs said: “We are delighted to have made this investment which demonstrates our differentiated thinking and approach. Richard and Neal have created a great company. We are excited to partner with founders with long-term growth aspirations and a desire for a flexible and nimble investor.”

With the backing of Telemos, Lovehoney will invest in new technology and marketing, allowing the business to raise its profile in new locations. This is Telemos’ first investment in the UK.

Mr Polny said: “We were attracted to Lovehoney’s category leadership, the strong own brand portfolio and the combination of customer service, community and content that truly differentiates the proposition.

"We look forward to working with Lovehoney’s founders and management team to grow the business in the UK and internationally in the years to come.”

Established in Bath in 2002, Lovehoney is a pure-ecommerce retailer, focusing on female users and couples.

Read more: South West goods exports rises to over £20billion

 

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