KKR has signed an agreement to acquire National Vision (NVI), a value-focused retailer of eyeglasses and contact lenses, and a portfolio company of Berkshire Partners. Berkshire acquired National Vision in 2005. KKR is making the investment in NVI through its North American XI private equity fund. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the first quarter. The management team of NVI is expected to remain a significant investor in the business.
“We have had an absolutely marvelous eight year relationship with Berkshire Partners and are so appreciative of all they have done to support our growth and help get us to where we are today,” said Reade Fahs, CEO of NVI. “The NVI team is anticipating and looking forward to a very similar sort of relationship with KKR.”
National Vision (NVI) is the fourth largest optical retailer in the United States, operating over 750 retail locations in 43 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. National Vision employs over 7,000 people and has several retail divisions including America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Eyeglass World, Vision Centers inside select Wal-Mart, Vista Optical inside Fred Meyer and Optical Centers on select military bases. NVI also sells its products direct to consumers through 25 websites, including www.aclens.com and www.discountcontactlenses.com. The company is headquartered in Lawrenceville, GA (www.nationalvision.com).
“NVI has a bright future ahead of it, and we are excited to partner with this proven management team on its next chapter of growth. Through its broad store base and leading e-commerce platform, the company is poised to benefit from the growth in this highly attractive value segment of the optical industry. As NVI continues to grow, we also look forward to supporting its important social mission,” said Nate Taylor, Member of KKR.
KKR makes private equity, fixed income and other investments in companies in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The firm has $90 billion in assets under management. KKR was founded in 1976 and in addition to its New York headquarters the firm has offices in Menlo Park, San Francisco, Houston, Washington DC, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Mumbai, Dubai and Sydney (www.kkr.com).
Berkshire Partners invests from $50 million to $500 million of equity capital in mid-sized companies operating in the consumer products, retail, business services, industrial manufacturing, transportation and communications sectors. The firm is currently investing from Berkshire Fund VIII, a $4.5 billion fund raised in 2011. Berkshire Partners was founded in 1986 and is based in Boston (www.berkshirepartners.com).
Barclays is acting as the lead financial advisor to National Vision with Wells Fargo as co-advisor.
© 2014 PEPD • Private Equity’s Leading News Magazine • 2-7-14