IMM Investment to invest $35 mil in outdoor gear maker Helinox PE firm bets on growth in camping equipment market

Translated by Ryu Ho-joung 공개 2021-07-28 07:52:39

이 기사는 2021년 07월 28일 07:50 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

IMM Investment will invest about 40 billion won ($34.8 million) in South Korean outdoor gear brand Helinox as it bets on the growth of the camping equipment market.

The Seoul-based private equity firm is set to acquire 104,412 shares of Helinox’s total issued shares of 475,000 and also purchase new shares issued by the company, industry sources said on Monday. The deal will make IMM Investment the company’s second largest shareholder with about a 22% stake.

The investment valued Helinox at 181.8 billion won, more than twice its valuation at which SkyLake Investment bought the company’s preferred shares to have a 33% stake in October 2019. Helinox is planning to go public in 2024.

“We decided to invest in Helinox, one of the leading companies in the camping gear industry, as we believe its growth will accelerate in the future,” an official at IMM Investment said. “We expect the company’s value to more than double before an IPO.”

Helinox is a well-known, high-end brand in the camping equipment market, with a large base of loyal customers. The company was founded by its chief executive Young Lah ten years ago.

In 2009, he brought up the idea of making camping gear products such as tents and camping furniture by using alloy poles produced by DAC, which is run by his father Jake Lah, and launched the brand in 2011.

Helinox is also well-known in overseas markets such as the US and Europe where camping is a national pastime. The company provided chairs for the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Museum's glass pyramid in 2019. Its brand recognition has also increased after collaborations with global brands including Disney and Porsche as well as global pop group BTS.

Helinox products have gained huge popularity among domestic consumers since last year as the Covid-19 travel restrictions led to a sharp increase in camping people.

The company recorded revenue of 41.1 billion won (excluding revenue from overseas subsidiaries) in 2020, up 152% from 16.3 billion won a year earlier. Its operating profit and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization have more than tripled to 7 billion won and 7.5 billion won, respectively, in the same period.

A change in a sales model also helped improve profitability. Helinox previously sold its products in overseas markets through local agencies but changed a system last year to sell them directly, which helped save commissions.

The use of eco-friendly materials is considered another strength of the company. DAC poles are produced through a process called green anodizing, which does not use hazard chemicals such as nitric acid and phosphoric acid. Helinox also uses the recycled polyester mesh fabric for its tents and camping chairs. (Reporting by Ha-na Suh)
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