Advent to exit its German book retailer Thalia to Herder

A consortium led by Herder, a reputable publishing family, has agreed to acquire Thalia, the leading book retailer in German-speaking Europe owned by Advent International and the Kreke family. Advent International and the Kreke family acquired Thalia in 2012, at the time a subsidiary of the former Douglas Holding AG. The Kreke family will remain invested in Thalia as a significant minority shareholder.

Following Thalia’s successful restructuring and realignment, the new shareholders will contribute complementary capabilities to continue the Company’s growth strategy. As one of the oldest publishing families in the German-speaking region, the Herder family has long cultivated the passion for the cultural heritage provided by books. Over the last decade, Herder has complemented this passion through successful investments in a number of digital and mobile content businesses. The Kreke family has been invested in Thalia and other leading retailers for several decades and will continue to make its longstanding retail know-how available to the management team.

Today, with digitalisation changing people’s reading habits and impacting the entire publishing and book retailing industry, digital expertise plays a crucial role, in addition to an attractive product portfolio and store layout. Going forward, this expertise will be provided by digital entrepreneur Leif Goeritz, who has many years of experience in the digital transformation of companies. Together with the Herder family, he acquired the leading app agency, Smart Mobile Factory, in 2014. Goeritz, who will head Thalia’s supervisory board, says: “Together with the long-term CEO Michael Busch, it is our vision to make “Thalia” synonymous with “Lesekultur” (reading culture) in the digital age.”

Over the last four years under Advent’s ownership, Thalia evolved into the leading cross-channel bookseller and is, in terms of revenue, the top ranking retail bookselling company in the German-speaking region. Advent supported management in the successful realignment of the Company’s product offering; today, the Company generates over 80 percent of its revenues from books and adjacent products. The remainder is generated from complementary product ranges such as games and toys, stationery products, music CDs and DVDs. Under Advent’s ownership, Thalia’s store network of over 280 stores was streamlined and modernised and an innovative online shop as well as industry leading hardware and software solutions in its digital business were introduced. Today, the Company is firmly established as the leading bookseller and driving force in the DACH region’s high-growth e-reading market. The new owners are committed to strengthen Thalia’s position and to continue and expand Thalia’s successful strategy in the online and digital segment. This also includes further investing into the tolino Alliance, Thalia’s successful alliance with other booksellers and Deutsche Telekom, to develop and market the tolino brand of e-readers.

Ranjan Sen, Managing Partner at Advent International, says: “After a successful realignment, Thalia emerged as a very healthy business with excellent growth prospects. We are extremely pleased that we were able to make a significant contribution to this development and see the hand over to the new owners as the right step for the Company to continue on its successful growth trajectory. In future, Thalia will be supported by strategic partners who will provide additional impetus and, as such, further strengthen Thalia’s market position.”

Publisher Manuel Herder explains: “Thalia, as a leading bookseller, has repeatedly proven its ability to anticipate and successfully shape trends and structural changes in book retailing. At the same time, the Company represents like no other the preservation of the high street reading experience, placing the individual reader at its centre. We have had intensive discussions over the past several weeks and we fully share and support management’s values and long-term vision for Thalia.”

Michael Busch, CEO of Thalia, says: “After several successful years of significant and necessary change as well as close and trustful cooperation with Advent International and the Kreke family as our owners, we now open a new chapter. We look forward to working with our new majority shareholders and guide Thalia into its next phase of development.”

Henning Kreke, a representative of the Kreke family, adds: “In recent years, Thalia has been able to further expand its position as the leading bookselling company in the German-speaking region. The new owners are firmly convinced of the chances of omni-channel book retailing and intend to continue the Company’s successful strategy with the existing management team.”

The parties agreed not to disclose the purchase price. The transaction is subject to antitrust clearance.


Source : Advent International Press Release

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