RMB Ventures acquires stake in Studio 88 Group

RMB Ventures, a private equity investor and subsidiary of FirstRand, announced yesterday that it has acquired a significant minority interest in The Studio 88 Group, one of Southern Africa’s largest independent footwear and apparel retail chains.

“The transaction combines an entrepreneurial management skill set with the strategic, financial and transactional capability of a first-tier private equity house, said RMB Venture’s Dwight Snyman.

“The emerging market retail space is particularly exciting at this time, and offers a multitude of opportunities to leverage the Studio 88 Group’s already significant and ever-expanding store infrastructure, something RMB Ventures is well placed to help facilitate through its extensive networks.”

The Studio 88 Group, started about eleven years ago by Laurence Wernars, is a leading sports-lifestyle branded footwear and clothing  retailer focussed on various emerging market consumer segments  throughout sub-Saharan Africa, trading through its Studio 88, Skipper Bar and Side-Step outlets.

The Studio 88 Group sells authentic branded goods sourced from leading brand houses such as Adidas, Puma, Converse, Nike, Guess, Superga and Levis, supplemented by an extensive in-house offering, through more than 180 outlets which are positioned in CBDs, regional malls and rural high streets in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho, with several stores already committed to in Mozambique and Zambia.

The transaction sees RMB Ventures investing alongside three of the four original founders of the group, including Wernars. The transaction also allows a number of senior operational managers to become first-time shareholders.

RMB Ventures’ Dwight Snyman says  “The Studio 88 Group is a uniquely positioned retailer in a fast-growing market segment, led by a dynamic and very successful management team. The transaction positions the business to take advantage of the organic and acquisition-based growth opportunities that exist both locally and north of our borders.”

The Studio 88 Group’s founder Laurence Wernars said “Despite our success as an independent, stand-alone business over the past eleven years, we were attracted to RMB Ventures as an institutional shareholder because of the strategic value it can add to the business. In addition, our business philosophies both strongly centre on an owner-manager culture, which means we approach challenges and opportunities with a similar mind set and a complementary skills set.”

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