Thrings team wraps up sale of quirky online gift retailer to discount book group

June 26, 2017

Legal experts from the Swindon head office of regional law firm Thrings have helped complete the sale of mail order and online gift business Qwerkity to discount retailer The Book People.

The complex deal, which was completed by the Thrings team to a tight deadline, widens The Book People’s offering to include Qwerkity’s wide range of quirky gifts.

Banbury-based Qwerkity, which was founded in 1989 as a mail order business, sells gifts for individuals, the home, garden and DIY as well as gadgets, clothes and travel accessories. Its range includes such items as folding wheelbarrows, self-heating pet beds and illuminated electric pepper grinders. Each year it distributes eight million catalogues.

It started life as Presents for Men when founder Jane Hudson found it hard to get unusual, good quality and inexpensive presents for the male members of her family. 

It has since grown into one of the foremost mail order gift companies in the UK. It rebranded as Qwerkity in 2014 to reflect its broader offering and in the 12 months to January boasted revenues of £9.1m. Prior to its sale it was owned by Jane and her husband Norman.

Surrey-based The Book People chalked up revenues of £79m in the year to last December. It has expanded beyond its core book sales to include toys, gifts and stationery since it was acquired in a management buyout in 2014 with backing from private equity firm Endless.

Thrings’ corporate team behind the deal was led by partners John Davies and Simon Hore and assisted by commercial solicitor Louisa Smith. They advised Qwerkity on all legal aspects of the deal including negotiating the share, sale and purchase agreements and carrying out due diligence.

Thrings commercial property solicitor Rebecca Strong advised on the property aspects of the sale.

Simon Hore said: “We’re very pleased to have helped Jane and Norman Hudson secure the sale of their business which they have worked so hard to build over many years.

“This involved working to tight deadlines to complete this complex deal which will enable The Book People to build on Qwerkity’s strong brand as it moves into new markets.”

Jane Hudson said: “Our objective when choosing lawyers to represent us was to ensure we had a firm who would fully protect our interests. We felt supported and confident in the Thrings team throughout this complex and, at times, difficult deal.”

The Book People chief executive William Wellesley added: “Bringing Qwerkity into the Book People family gives us a great opportunity to grow its business using our digital, buying and fulfilment expertise. Our expansion into the gifting market, through this acquisition, also represents the natural next step for The Book People.”

Adrian Dray and Neil Giles of Reading and London-based Quercus advised on the corporate finance aspects of the transaction, financial details of which have not been disclosed.

Pictured: Thrings partners John Davies and Simon Hore

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