Next and finance firms buy JoJo Maman Bebe

Baby goods retailer JoJo Maman Bebe is being sold to High Street giant Next and a group of finance firms, the BBC has learned.

Next has taken on 44% of the firm’s shares, with the other 56% acquired by investment companies managed or advised by hedge fund Davidson Kempner.

There will be no immediate job losses at JoJo Maman Bebe.

Its founder said she was “excited by the opportunities this new partnership will offer”.

As part of the deal though, Laura Tenison will leave the business that she founded nearly 30 years ago.

She added that she was “exceptionally proud” of the firm’s achievements, having grown the company “from a kitchen table start-up to being the UK’s leading specialist boutique mother and baby brand”.

Gwynn Milligan, who joined JoJo Maman Bebe in 2017 as commercial director, has taken over as chief executive.

The retailer has 87 brick-and-mortar shops across the UK, which will continue trading.

According to its LinkedIn page, it currently employs more than 950 people.

In an email seen by the BBC, staff were told on Thursday that the deal would “ensure the longevity of the brand for generations of new customers”.

Next will also make a £16.3m investment in the brand using its own cash, although the value of JoJo Maman Bebe’s sale was not immediately made clear.

Next plans to keep the JoJo brand distinct and grow the business globally using its online shopping infrastructure, such as warehousing and software, to support the up-market baby goods retailer’s physical shops and online sales.

It has not yet been decided whether or not the boutique baby clothes will be sold in Next shops.

Last September, JoJo Maman Bebe was forced to hike prices for the first time in about five years due to rising costs and supply chain issues.

At the time, Ms Milligan said that the company had seen shipping costs quadruple.

She added that the company was also having to absorb increased costs on some products, because of competition from retail rivals.

In a statement, Simon Wolfson, Next’s chief executive, said: “We are excited to see what can be achieved through the combination of JoJo’s exceptional product with Next’s infrastructure and Davidson Kempner as our investment partner.”

He added that the investment was not expected to have any immediate impact on the High Street giant’s profits this financial year, but he expects it “to make a positive contribution thereafter”.

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