- Investment firm Blackstone has agreed to acquire a majority stake in womenswear brand Spanx, according to a press release.
- The deal values Spanx at a total of $1.2 billion. Sara Blakely, who founded the brand in 2000, will continue to hold a "significant" stake in the business.
- Spanx senior leaders will continue to oversee operations, the company said. When the deal closes, Blakely is set to step into the role of executive chairwoman. Under Blackstone, the company plans to create an all-female board.
Direct-to-consumer brands are cashing in, in myriad ways, amid a rarefied market for M&A and public listings this year. With the stock market reaching all-time highs in 2021, this year presents one of the best times in recent history for founders and venture capitalists to make their exits.
So far this year, Retail Dive has tracked more than 50 major deals in the industry, including acquisitions and IPOs. And the deals just keep coming. DTC players Allbirds, Brilliant Earth, On and others have all filed for IPOs recently. Honest Co. and Warby Parker, among others, went public earlier this year.
As for Spanx, the company said that the Blackstone acquisition would "enable Spanx to accelerate its already rapid digital transformation and strong online presence in the e-commerce channel, expand its global footprint, and fuel its commitment to creating innovative, ground-breaking products for its customers across even more categories."
Blakely founded Spanx more than two decades ago with $5,000 in savings. She wrote the patent and invented the brand's first undergarment from her apartment at a time when she was selling faxing machines door-to-door to earn a living.
Being a female-led brand has been a selling point in an intimates industry that was long dominated by men. Spanx was among the DTC brands challenging lingerie giant Victoria's Secret for market share, which even when the brand itself was headed by a woman ultimately answered to male chiefs at owner L Brands. (Victoria's Secret spun off from L Brands this year. Its current CEO is Martin Waters).
After years of relying on retail partners as a wholesaler, Spanx today does about 70% of its sales through DTC channels, Blakely told CNBC recently. She also told the news outlet that Spanx plans to expand into denim following the Blackstone deal.