David Jones will be acquired by private equity firm Anchorage Capital Partners for $100m.

The Australian upmarket department store was founded in 1838 and is celebrating its 185th year of business.

Since 2014 it has been owned by South African retail group Woolworths Holdings Limited – which has no connection with the Australian supermarket chain – when it was sold for $2.1 billion.

Rumours of Woolworths’ Holdings plans to sell David Jones have been swirling for months, firming last week to the estimated value of between $125 million and $130 million.

David Jones currently has 43 stores across Australia and New Zealand, and employs 7500 people across its operations.

Its deal with Anchorage does not include Melbourne’s Bourke Street building, which is estimated to be worth around double what the private equity firm paid for the retail chain.

David Jones CEO Scott Fyfe.

David Jones CEO Scott Fyfe said the leadership team at David Jones is thrilled to have the support and  financial commitment of such a well-respected owner in Anchorage, which shares David Jones’ vision and passion for the future of the business and supports the management team’s strategy.

“Together, we see many opportunities to optimise value and innovation in the David Jones business as we enter a new phase of growth,” he said.

“David Jones has been through a significant transformation, driven by our  Vision 2025+ strategy, and I look forward to working with the Anchorage team to further enhance the  leadership position of David Jones in Australia as the nation’s leading omnichannel retailer and one of its most loved and long-standing brands.”

Anchorage is one of Australia’s leading private equity firms with extensive experience in retail and  consumer investments over 25 years and a strong track record of investing in businesses to accelerate  their growth and achieve their strategic and financial objectives.

A spokesperson for Anchorage said the firm is thrilled to announce this landmark acquisition of a  distinguished Australian retailer.

“David Jones has a storied history, immense brand value and unparalleled assets―including an attractive retail footprint, a loyal customer base, and dedicated employees. The Anchorage team will work closely with CEO Scott Fyfe and the talented David Jones management  team on the next phase of its transformation.

“Under this team’s stewardship, David Jones is now profitable, cash-generative, and self-funding, and we are confident in David Jones’ next chapter as the retailer of the future with a seamless omnichannel experience. This transaction aligns with Anchorage’s investment strategy and its successful track record of executing  complex carve-outs. We look forward to leveraging our deep industry expertise, hands-on approach with  management, and continued investment to drive key initiatives to grow the business and deliver  sustainable future performance,” the Anchorage spokesperson said.

Anchorage will acquire the operating business of David Jones with the transaction expected to close by the end of March 2023, subject to customary closing conditions.

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