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Eyewear Brand Sets Sights on Growth with Acquisition Backed by FDC

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Wolf Eyewear acquires White Optics in deal backed by FDC to create one of the UK's leading independent eyewear suppliers
Tom Wolfenden

Wolf Eyewear – a family-run glasses designer known for its bold and colourful frames – has acquired the economy brand White Optics in a deal that will create one of the UK’s leading independent eyewear suppliers.

The acquisition, which was backed by debt funding from Frontier Development Capital (FDC), will allow both companies to offer products at a wide range of price points to independent opticians, which make up the bulk of their customer base.

Wolf Eyewear, which is based in Leighton Buzzard, was founded in 2009 by Ian Wolfenden and is now run by his son Tom. The company, which employs 26 staff, produces five different ranges catering for children, teens and adults and including a premium range and sunglasses. It sells its products mainly in the UK but also through its distribution outlets in the US, Italy, Australia and New Zealand.

White Optics, established in 1976, employs 20 staff at its base in Peterlee, County Durham and is known for its value range covering men’s, women’s and children’s frames across six collections. The deal follows the death of the founder’s son David White, and will allow for the eventual retirement of shareholders Tim Peterson, the Sales Director, and Donna Peacock, the Operations Director, although both will remain with the business in the medium term. The two companies will continue to operate as separate businesses under their existing brands.

Tom Wolfenden, CEO of Wolf Eyewear, said: “Having worked closely with the White Optics team for some time, we are pleased to have completed this deal which will bring them into the Wolf ‘family’. Both companies have an excellent fit in terms of culture and products and joining forces means we can now offer frames to suit every budget. It will also safeguard the future of the White Optics brand and enable them to join us on our growth journey.”

The debt package from FDC includes funding for the acquisition and to support further growth.

Simon Kelsall of FDC added: “The acquisition will bring together two complementary businesses to create one of the UK’s leading eyewear wholesalers. Tom and his team at Wolf Eyewear have their sights firmly set on growth and have already begun to establish distribution channels overseas. It is great to be able to support this deal, which will extend their reach in the UK and make them well positioned for further international expansion.”

Lucy Freeman of The Wilkes Partnership provided legal advice to FDC while Natasha Hill of Azets carried out financial due diligence.

Part of Mercia Asset Management, FDC supports mid-market SME businesses across the country with debt funding between £1m and £7.5m.

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