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Radley, the UK's leading ladies handbag, luggage and accessories brand, has sold a majority shareholding to Exponent Private Equity, in a secondary buy-out from Phoenix Equity Partners, valuing the business at £130m.

Exponent is one of the UK's leading mid-cap private equity firms. Other important investments made by the firm have included The Times Educational Supplement, the weekly newspaper for the UK educational market, which is the leading vendor of rail tickets via the internet and V Ships, the world's largest ship management business.

Radley + Co. has grown rapidly and its handbags, luggage and accessories are sold in more than 500 independent retail outlets and leading department stores in UK, as well as a number of countries around the world.

The Radley brand represents honest luxury and its distinctive dog motif has become recognised amongst women as a mark of quality. Every Radley product offers women an exceptional combination of style and functionality, and the brand is known for being colourful with an English sense of fun. Radley is about ‘designing things women fall in love with’. It has a large, growing and loyal consumer base.

In the last two years the profile of the Radley brand has been raised considerably through a highly acclaimed national advertising campaign. Three flagship stores have been opened in London and another in Manchester's city centre. In October this year Radley also started selling through its own website. The product offer has been extended into new areas and Radley sunglasses will be introduced in stores for the first time next Spring.

Lowell Harder founded the Radley brand in 1998 with a vision to launch a feminine and uniquely different range of handbags. Only 10 years later Radley is the clear market leader with an estimated 14% market share. Lowell is now Creative Director and remains the creative force behind Radley. She is part of an industry-leading senior management team recruited into the company in early 2006 and led by Chief Executive Roger Best.

Radley + Co.'s revenues are expected to exceed £60m in the year to end of April 2008 and have increased by an average of nearly 30% for each of the last 5 years. It is anticipated that much of future growth will come from international markets. Radley handbags will be launched in USA in Spring 2008 through Bloomingdales and Lord&Taylor and is already being sold through major department stores in South-East Asia. The first overseas Radley flagship store opened in Dubai in September.

Roger Best, Chief Executive of Radley, commenting on the acquisition by Exponent, said, “This is a fantastic business and the management team are excited to be staying on to keep building the company into something very special. We have had two great years with Phoenix, and are confident that in Exponent we have found new ideal partners for the next stage of growth. International brand development will be a key priority.”

Richard Tudor of Exponent said, “We're very pleased to be involved with Radley. It has all the hallmarks of the kind of business we like: It's the leader in its field, it has a fantastic management team and the growth prospects are exciting.”