Livingstone’s Consumer sector team has successfully advised the shareholder of ic! berlin Group on his succession planning solution and a significant investment through German private equity fund PREMIUM Equity Partners. Founded in 1996 in an apartment in trendy central Berlin, ic! berlin has grown into one of the most internationally recognised premium eyewear brands.
Handmade in Berlin, ic! berlin designs and produces both prescription glasses and sunglasses. The Company revolutionised eyewear through its innovative, patented, screwless hinge solution, making its glasses extremely light, flexible, comfortable and built to last. Initially known for its metal frames, over the years ic! berlin’s product portfolio has expanded to include acetate, 3D-printed polyamide and buffalo horn frames.
Its unique and award-winning designs have helped the Company garner somewhat of a cult following over the years, with an ever growing list of eyewear aficionados, celebrities and royalty comprising the iconic Company’s customer base. From its humble roots, ic! berlin eyewear can now be found at high-end opticians and boutiques in over 60 countries across six continents.
Today, ic! berlin has approximately 190 employees across its subsidiaries in Europe, USA and Asia. The Company differentiates itself through its unique, patented hinge solution, its fashion-forward designs, ranging from classic and subtle to trendy and avant-garde, and the high level of quality and comfortable fit of its frames.
“In PREMIUM Equity Partners I was able to find the right succession solution and together we will continue down ic! berlin’s uncompromising path. I am pleased that our new shareholders share our excitement for our future projects. As an international sheet metal eyewear salesman, I will remain closely-connected to ic! berlin,” commented Ralph Anderl, former CEO and co-shareholder, who will remain involved in an advisory role for ic! berlin.
PREMIUM Equity Partners is an equity investment firm founded in 2011 with a focus on the DACH region where it invests in strong niche companies with sales between $12m and $60m. PREMIUM provides capital to the smaller “Mittelstand” companies to finance growth, ownership succession and spin-offs. ic! berlin is PREMIUM’s fourth investment and the first investment of PREMIUM’s Mittelstandsfonds, which they established together with Bankhaus Lampe in 2017.
“The creativity of the Company’s highly dedicated employees provides the basis for ic! berlin’s further growth. Over the next years, we want to continue building brand awareness and broaden the Company’s distribution network even further, so that excitement for the ic! berlin brand can continue to spread worldwide. The core of this future development is ic! berlin’s high quality in-house production in Berlin, which gives the Company high design-to-market capabilities,” commented PREMIUM’s industry partner and Chairman of ic! berlin’s Advisory Board, Dr. Wolfgang Rebstock, former CEO of the eyewear manufacturer, Eschenbach.
“We look forward to implementing the growth plan with the ic! berlin team. The Company’s international presence, its production and design know-how, and the dynamism of the team provide an excellent platform for this,” added Marcel van Wijk, Managing Partner, and Fabian Walesch, Partner of PREMIUM Equity Partners.
“It was our pleasure to closely support ic! berlin in the this latest phase of growth. We strongly believe that a successful German Mittelstand transaction like this is not only based on the identification of the right partner but even more so on the considered and hands-on management of points-of-view between all parties involved. This is where a trusted and experienced advisor can make the difference,” commented Ralph Hagelgans, Managing Partner of Livingstone, who was supported by Felix Leitloff, executive Director, in this transaction.