Bait and Switch

Douglas Calls Off IPO

douglas horst ossinge picture alliance
A Douglas storefront in Düsseldorf.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Investors in Germany and abroad will be disappointed with Douglas’ decision to sell to CVC instead of heading back to the stock exchange.

  • Facts


    • The company is owned by founding family Kreke and U.S. investment fund Advent.
    • Douglas has over 1,700 stores in 19 countries and online shops in 15 countries.
    • It could have been the largest initial public offering in Germany since Rocket Internet went public in October 2014.
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In a surprise change of heart, the owners of Douglas have cancelled the planned IPO that they had announced just last week.

Instead of heading back to the stock exchange, investors CVC Capital Partners will purchase  Douglas from current owners Advent International.

Both parties involved have agreed not to disclose the price.

Last week, financial sources estimated that the retail chain could be valued at up to €3 billion, or $3.3 billion, in its initial public offering.

Douglas maintains more than 1,700 stores in 19 countries and has online shops in 15 countries. According to its own data, the chain has a market share of 17 percent and sees itself as the market leader in Europe after its takeover of French competitor Nocibé in 2014.

CVC Capital Partners will buy the chain from the joint holding company, comprised of the U.S. investment fund Advent and the founding family Kreke.

Members of the founding family will remain on the board after the sale. The family has agreed with CVC that they will also invest in the new Douglas holding, so that their share remains at a constant 15 percent.

The current CEO Henning Kreke will reportedly continue to lead the company.

“We are looking forward to working together with the family and the management, to drive this European beauty champion forward on a long-term growth path,” said Soren Vestergaard-Poulsen, managing parter at CVC.

“The IPO would have been a good option for the company – but only the second best.”

Henning Kreke, CEO, Douglas

The aim is to expand the network of retailers as well as to build up the online business.

“The strength of the management team, an extensive network of branches, and a leading position in the online business make Douglas a market leader with attractive growth potential,” said Mr. Vestergaard-Poulsen.

Speaking of the sudden strategic about-turn, CEO Henning Kreke said, “The IPO would have been a good option for the company – but only the second best.”

He explained that CVC put a better offer on the table last week, one that would enable the beauty chain to expand in an optimal way.

Douglas left the stock exhange completely in 2013. And while the owners hadn’t named a concrete date for its IPO this year, they had given very clear indications that it would happen.

The initial public offering was to be comprised of shares from the current owners and newly issued shares from an estimated €70-billion capital increase.

Even the banks coordinating the IPO had been named: JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. The company would have been a candidate for the MDax.

“We have grown from being a German shop to a pan-European enterprise, and now it’s time for the next chapter,” said Mr. Kreke. “We can best continue this growth story together with CVC.”

He noted that CVC was a partner that was focused on the long term, and could contribute its own expertise.

Douglas is CVC’s second foray into the beauty market. In 2007, it took over Danish health-and-beauty product chain Matas.


Florian Kolf is a newsroom editor, based in the Handelsblatt Düsseldorf bureau. To contact him:

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