Alantra advises Soho Square on its investment in the leading luxury art retailer De Montfort Fine Art
SECTORConsumer Goods & Retail
May 2022 – Alantra, the global investment banking firm, has advised Soho Square Capital (Soho Square) on its investment in the rapidly growing leading publisher, distributor and luxury retailer of contemporary fine art De Montfort Fine Art (“De Montfort” or “the Group”), which trades under the gallery brands of Whitewall Galleries and Clarendon Fine Art.
De Montfort was founded in Lichfield by Helen Swaby over 25 years ago and is now among the UK’s fastest growing luxury retail groups with over 80 galleries that showcase an unrivalled range of contemporary art, as well as many important and influential names from the 20th century. The breadth of artistic talent within the portfolio is unrivaled in both style and appeal to clients.
In recent years, the Group has experienced rapid organic growth which has been driven by its highly motivated and passionate management team, successful gallery rollout, exclusive portfolio of hugely talented artists, and experiential and inspirational customer journey.
The deal sees Soho Square take a minority stake in the Group with David Steel, Director at Soho Square, joining the Board of Directors. CEO and founder, Helen Swaby, remains the majority shareholder alongside an experienced and incentivised management team.
This investment will enable the management team of De Montfort to continue with their ambitious rollout plans across the UK and beyond, expanding the scale and reach of the group, bringing contemporary fine art to new markets.
Bobby Fletcher commented, “We’re proud to have introduced Soho Square to De Montfort and then support the team through the transaction. Helen Swaby and her team have built an impressive business and can now take advantage of the opportunity of working with a new private equity partner that intends to increase its UK footprint whilst exploring international expansion. Soho Square immediately recognised the opportunity to support De Montfort’s ambitious plans, and they will bring additional, complementary expertise to the existing high-quality management team.”
David Steel, Director at Soho Square Capital, commented, “De Montfort Fine Art is a clear disruptor within the art market. Having built up its exclusive, high-quality artist under management portfolio of content over decades in combination with its unique position as the world’s largest network of owned galleries, the Group is truly opening up new markets for fine art. Helen has built an incredibly impressive business from scratch and has assembled a high-quality team throughout the business. We are excited to be backing and working with this high-energy, forward-thinking team. Our investment in De Montfort, which sits senior in the capital structure, is typical of the type of investment that Soho Square is pursuing in the UK and northern European markets.”
Helen Swaby, CEO and founder of De Montfort, commented, “I started the company determined to tackle the elitism that dominates the world of art and to change the perception that contemporary art was for the chosen few. 25 years later, we have 80 beautiful boutique galleries across the UK as well as on board ocean liners in partnership with Cunard, P&O and Holland America where we’re able to make art acquisition for our clients a very accessible and enjoyable experience. The business is totally committed to a joyful customer experience irrespective of whether the client is a relative newcomer to the world of art or an established collector. The growth and the success of the business has been driven by our superior range of original works and fine art editions from highly regarded contemporary artists alongside a hugely dedicated, loyal and passionate team of people working within every sector of the business. Soho Square’s investment is the next step in further expansion including overseas gallery opportunities and improved online services.”
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