Retail in Asia

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Australian youth retailer Universal Stores raises US$107 million in IPO

Universal Store

Australian fashion retailer Universal Store said it has raised close to US$109.1 million via a secret IPO last month, as the youth-focused company looks to strengthen its position as a successful omni-channel fashion retailer, as Australia’s lacklustre retail landscape is on the rise.

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The Brisbane-based chain has raised US$107.5 million through a US$27.9 million primary issuance at US$2.54 a share and a US$79.5 million sell-down of its private equity backers, according to a report by the Australian Financial Review.

Upon listing, Universal Store will have a market capitalisation of about US$203.6 million, representing a price-earnings multiple of 14 times, according to the report.

The retailer’s shareholders – which include Brett Blundy’s BB Retail Capital, Trent Peterson’s Catalyst Direct Capital Management and Adrian MacKenzie’s Five V Capital – hired JPMorgan and UBS to establish the ASX float.

The IPO comes two years after the fashion-forward retailer was purchased by the consortium of prominent private equity investors in 2018 for US$72.7 million.

Founded in the late 1990s, Universal Store helmed by its current CEO Alice Barbery.

The company sells men’s and women’s clothing targeted at millennial shoppers (or those aged 15 to 34), and retails many international brands such as Patagonia, Harley-Davidson, Wrangler, Birkenstock, Lee and Lacoste.

The retailer operates an online store alongside its 64 bricks- and-mortar locations.

The IPO news comes as Australia’s retail landscape is on the rise. Last quarter, Australian retail figures advanced 6.5% in the three months through September, led by clothing and cafes sales, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported.

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The lift comes after a decline of 3.5% in the prior quarter. On a monthly basis, retail sales slid 1.1% in September, compared with economists’ forecasts for a 1.5% drop.