L1 Retail is a differentiated investor with a longer-term investment horizon than many other financial investors. We seek to deploy capital into platforms that can be positioned for strong sustainable growth over 10 years and beyond. As a result, we favour investments which are exposed to long-term secular trends that have proven organic growth and/or which can be platforms for industry consolidation. 

Over the course of the past 12 months, L1 Retail has established its market positioning, expanded its team to support its portfolio companies and invested in sustainable growth initiatives.

L1 Retail owns Holland & Barrett, which provides attractive exposure to the growing health and wellness market. It also owns 69.76% of Distribuidora Internacional de Alimentación S.A. (“DIA”), the Spanish food retailer.

Investment approach

Established in December 2016, L1 Retail’s strategy is to identify and invest in companies that are well-positioned platforms for long-term growth and sustainable competitive differentiation. L1 Retail seeks investments where we can play an active role and leverage L1 Retail team’s prior investment experience, industry expertise and an extensive global retail network to successfully implement this approach.

We work in close partnership with management teams and place a strong emphasis on recruiting, developing and retaining top-tier talent. A key focus for any investment is to best position the business for it to react and take advantage of sector disruption driven by technology and digital innovation.

As a long-term investor, we are attracted to business models that are exposed to structural sector themes. We look to partner with sector leaders that operate in broad addressable markets and have strong customer value proposition. We believe customer focus and convenience provide long-term growth opportunities. As a result, we are attracted to the convergence of physical and digital retail, along with the conjunction of products and services.

We seek to invest up to $1bn of equity per platform. Our capital has a global mandate and can be invested in minority or control investments.

 

Stephan DuCharme

We believe customer focus and convenience provide longterm growth opportunities. As a result, we are attracted to the convergence of physical and digital retail, as well as the convergence of products and services

Stephan DuCharmeManaging Partner

L1 Retail team

Our investment team comprises retail and investment professionals with extensive experience in leading, advising and financing leading retail organisations. The team works closely with our Advisory Board, which comprises experienced CEOs and entrepreneurs with a proven track record in retail. The investment team and Advisory Board work together to formulate strategy, develop and execute investments and support our management teams.

L1 Retail is led by Stephan DuCharme. Previously, Stephan was the X5 CEO and oversaw a period of strong growth from 3,800 stores to over 14,000 stores today. During the year, the investment team has expanded and includes professionals with strong expertise in investment, finance and operations. The investment team is supported by a highly experienced Advisory Board comprising Clive Humby (chief data scientist at Starcount and founder of dunnhumby) and John Walden (CEO of FTD and former CEO of Home Retail Group and Argos). Each member of the Advisory Board brings complementary expertise from commercial and operations, data science and innovation through to digital and technology.

Driving retail and digital excellence at Holland & Barrett

In 2017, L1 Retail acquired Holland & Barrett for £1.77bn. Originally founded in 1870, Holland & Barrett has grown to be Europe’s largest health and wellness retail chain with strong brand loyalty and a wide store footprint. It operates 1,076 stores in five countries including 833 stores and concessions in the UK and Ireland, and 243 stores internationally in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden.

Working with the management team at Holland & Barrett, L1 Retail has developed an ambitious long-term vision for the company, which will be driven by digital transformation of all aspects of the business, leveraging data needs, defining the technology capabilities required, and shaping the leadership and culture to drive focus on achieving long-term success in a changing retail environment.

In 2018, Holland & Barrett grew its revenues 7.1% on the back of strong like-forlike sales growth of 3.9%, 32.2% growth in digital sales, and new store space. Technology is dramatically reshaping the retail landscape as consumers increasingly use mobile and other internet devices to communicate, learn, and transact.

DIA voluntary tender offer

In 2018, it became clear that DIA was undergoing serious financial difficulties. In February 2019, L1 Retail, which owned 29% of the company, announced a voluntary tender offer and comprehensive rescue plan to secure the future of DIA. L1 Retail believed that under the right leadership and governance, DIA could deliver a transformation and re-establish its leading position in Spain to the benefit of the Spanish economy. 

The L1 Retail rescue plan, ‘MAKE DIA A CHAMPION’, consisted of three integrated components. First, a VTO for the acquisition of all the shares in DIA that it did not already own at a price of €0.67 per share, a significant premium of 56.1% to the closing price on 4 February 2019.  Second, a commitment to support a capital increase of €500m to achieve a viable long-term capital structure, which was conditional upon the completion of the VTO and reaching a satisfactory agreement with DIA’s lending banks. Third, a comprehensive six-pillar transformation plan, led and overseen by L1 Retail, which is expected to deliver a turnaround of the business over the next 5 years.

On Friday 17 May 2019, the National Securities Market Commission (the “CNMV”) officially announced that the Offer has been accepted by a number of shares representing 40.76% of the share capital of DIA, which, together with those shares held by LetterOne before the Offer, make LetterOne hold 69.76% of the share capital of DIA.