An equity capital group has bought a controlling interest in a high-end clothing retailer in a £30 million deal.
Phoenix Equity Partners announced the deal with retailer Bank Stores yesterday.
Bank, which currently has 30 stores in the UK, is based largely in the Midlands and North West but recently opened outlets in Glasgow, Bristol and Southampton and will unveil a store in Milton Keynes in May this year.
The business, which has a turnover of £33 million, was formed in 1994 by Andy Scott and specialises in high-profile clothing brands including DKNY, French Connection, Miss Sixty and Ted Baker.
It merged with the Fire and Ice chain, owned by Hoss Mehjoo, in March 2003, giving it stores throughout the Midlands, including one in Birmingham's Bull Ring centre.
Mr Scott said: "Hoss is a good friend of mine and I wanted a presence in the Midlands, so we decided to merge the companies and rebrand the Fire and Ice stores as Bank."
The company plans to double its number of stores to 60 with the new Phoenix investment, with Mr Scott and managing director Damian Scarlett leading the expansion.
"We've been negotiating this deal for more than six months. We had offers from four different companies, but we chose Phoenix because of their experience with other retail companies such as Jimmy Choo and Tootsies restaurants," said Mr Scott
"We plan to double the number of our stores to 60 by autumn 2008. We have ambitious plans and a talented team and we look forward to benefiting from Phoenix's capital to build Bank into a much larger and more successful business."
Bank made a profit of £1.6 million in the year up to January 2005, and the company is projecting sales of £43 million for the 12 months up to January 2006.
Mr Scott said: "Retail generally is going a bit grey at the moment, but our sector is thriving. We target 16 to 23-year-olds in our stores and we're having great success."
Phoenix partner David Burns said: "We've been enormously impressed by Bank's achievements over the past few years."
Phoenix is run by a team of entrepreneurs and looks for investments in medium-sized companies which can be expanded over three to four years.
The company, which is unrelated to the parent of MG Rover, deals with equity fund investments in mid-market private businesses worth up to £200 million.
It manages funds of around £550 million, including an investment in Palletways, a freight logistics company based in Lichfield.
It bought the company, which was named as one of Europe's fastest- growing firms in 2003, in a management buy out in July 2004.
Phoenix also sold luxury shoe business Jimmy Choo for £101 million in November 2004 after investing £9 million in the company in 2001, netting its investors £35 million.
Hugh Lenon at Phoenix said: "What we like to do is find a business with a proven model and then roll it out. We think there's a really good opportunity to expand Bank beyond its roots."