Mahabis, the London-based producer of slippers with detachable soles and foldable heels, has been acquired by YYX Capital, a private-equity/venture-capital firm that invests in consumer-internet, e-commerce and financial-technology (FinTech) companies. The deal was made with KRE Corporate Recovery, as Mahabis had fallen into administration – a rescue procedure for insolvent companies in the U.K., not unlike a bankruptcy filing in the U.S. – in December of last year. Thanks to the acquisition, Mahabis will be retaining its staff and preserving its network of suppliers. Ankur Shah, who founded the company and had been its sole owner, will be stepping away.
No party to the deal has disclosed a price, although the speculative figure of £2-3 million (€2.3-3.4m - $2.6-3.9m) has appeared in the Sunday Times. According to KRE, more than 70 parties expressed interest in buying the company.
The Financial Times quotes a statement from YYX according to which Mahabis generated £25 million (€28m-$33m) in sales and about £2.5 million (€2.8m-$3.3m) in Ebitda for its fiscal year 2016-17. According to James Cox, a partner at XXY Capital and co-founder of Simba Sleep, Mahabis had managed to sell about a million slippers in 20 countries in just four years.
Mahabis slippers feature a rubber sole that can be attached to allow the wearer to go outside to pick up the mail, walk the dog and other chores. Its cushion-fold heels can be worn up to provide extra comfort through light heel support. As the company says, Mahabis' slippers combine Scandinavian design with an Italian soles and Portuguese manufacture. The “classic 2” model of slippers retails for £69 (€78-$89). The company also sells apparel, watches, backpacks and lifestyle accessories under its brand name.
Since its founding in 2014, the company had been selling its products directly-to-consumers almost exclusively online – and successfully. The one exception to the business model has apparently been Office, the British shoe retail chain, but only since this past December, according to the FT.
The reasons for the company's insolvency are unclear, but Cox has speculated that Shah, entirely within his rights, might have opted to take profits out of the company rather than reinvest them or build up cash reserves. He might also have been seeking to sell the company early last year, and thereby lost focus on daily operations.
Cox is now serving as interim chief executive at Mahabis, though he will retain his seat on the board of directors of Simba, a company that sells mattresses over the internet. In fact, according to Bloomberg, there are plans to produce slippers co-branded by Mahabis and Simba. More importantly, XXY plans to start selling Mahabis' products through multiple channels, including brick-and-mortar stores in downtown areas. The goal is to achieve annual sales of £100 million (€113m-$129m) and a 15 percent Ebitda margin within five years.
Other companies backed by YYX Capital include the skincare brand Carbon Theory, the contact lens supplier Waldo and the tele-dentistry platform Straight Teeth Direct.