R-GOL and Unisport to join forces for further international expansion (2024)

  • R-GOL, a leading multi-brand distributor of football merchandise in CEE, backed by Innova Capital, has agreed to acquire Unisport, the social media-powered online football retailer, from Nordic Capital.
  • R-GOL and Unisport are joining forces to scale expansion in Europe and globally, with a strong strategic fit.
  • The combined business will have EUR >200M combined revenues, >500,000 football club team members, 1.6M loyalty members and >10M followers on social media.

MALSCH, Germany, June 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- R-GOL, a leading multi-brand distributor of football merchandise in CEE, backed by Innova Capital, has reached an agreement to acquire Unisport, a premier social media-enabled online retailer of football merchandise from leading sector-specialised private equity investor Nordic Capital.

This transaction marks a significant milestone for both companies. Together, R-GOL and Unisport will aim to create a leading football merchandise and equipment player for football enthusiasts, professionals and football clubs in Europe and globally, with a strong strategic fit and a robust platform for further expansion. The companies have a complementary geographical presence, with R-GOL being a leader in CEE, and Unisport in Northern and Western Europe, and compatible distribution channels, competences, and know-how. Combined revenues for both companies in 2024 are expected to be over EUR 200 million with a combined CAGR over the last 10 years of 25%, and approximately 475 employees.

By using innovative digital strategies, R-GOL and Unisport together gather over 10 million dedicated followers on social media, have over 1.3 billion YouTube views, and 1.6 million members in some of the world's most extensive football loyalty programs. The aim for the combined company is to continue to grow in Europe, to build a comprehensive ecosystem for the needs of football fans, players and clubs alike, , exploring new growth avenues with the ambition to become the leading football specialist globally.

R-GOL was founded in Poland in 2000and has over the last years focused on international expansion, currently operating in 14 markets in Central and Eastern Europe as a leader among specialised distributors of football products. Expert knowledge, innovation, long-term cooperation with clubs and a strong community of football enthusiasts built around the brand make the company a key partner for leading manufacturers of footwear, apparel, and sports accessories.Innova Capital has been a majority investor in R-GOL since 2023, working alongside the founder, Marcin Radziwon.

Unisport was established in Denmark in 1995 and has risen to be a frontrunner in the European football merchandise market. Since Nordic Capital's acquisition in 2015, the company has achieved strong and profitable organic growth, with revenues and EBITDA growing more than fivefold over the period. The company has expanded into new geographies such as Germany and France, opening flagship stores in several European capitals and has become a trusted partner for football enthusiasts. Working in close partnership with the Unisport management team, Nordic Capital has supported investments into growth across the company's digital platform, brand identify, warehouse infrastructure and partnerships with football clubs and leading brands. With these advancements, Unisport is now well-positioned to continue its strong growth journey together with R-GOL.

"I have a dream that one day R-GOL will stand on the podium of the Champions League in our industry. Joining forces with legendary Unisport to play as one team, is a big step in reaching this vision. Together with Michael and his team, we share a passion for football and an ambition to win. I am thrilled that we will play together to achieve the ultimate goal – the top step of the World Cup podium. I want to thank everyone who has been part of the journey leading up to this and we are looking forward to continuing this joint journey."said Marcin Radziwon, Founder & CEO, R-GOL.

"I am incredibly happy for Unisport to partner with R-GOL. We share a common passion for football and joint vision–to be the best duo in football. Together, we can enhance our offerings and continue deliver unparalleled value to our customers. There are exciting times ahead when two dynamic players of European football segment combine their strengths and we're ready to scale further globally. At the same time, we want to thank Nordic Capital, their strategic guidance and industry expertise have played a pivotal role in our growth and together we've achieved great results. We extend our gratitude for their support as we transition to the next phase of our journey," said Michael Burk, CEO of Unisport.

"We've been very impressed by what Unisport has achieved so far and are extremely happy to welcome it to the Innova & R-GOL family. This transaction exemplifies the way how Innova creates value both through international expansion and effective execution of a buy & build strategies. We are excited to back the joint team in their pursuit of becoming a leading football segment specialist globally," said Łukasz Cyran, Managing Director at Innova Capital.

"Unisport has been on a remarkable growth journey during Nordic Capital's ownership which has seen Unisport grow from being a local Nordic e-commerce champion to becoming a leading pan-European social media-enabled e-commerce player with significantly scaled profitable operations and impressive reach on social media. Nordic Capital is proud to have partnered with Unisport and its strong management team on this journey and are pleased to see Unisport take the next step together with R-GOL," said Christian Hedegaard, Managing Director and Country Coverage Manager for Denmark, Nordic Capital Advisors.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Completion of the transaction is expected in Q3 2024.

Media contacts:

R-GOL/Innova
Katarzyna Kaczmarek
Tel.: +48 22 544 94 00
email: [emailprotected]

Unisport/Nordic Capital
Katarina Janerud
Communications Manager, Nordic Capital Advisors
Tel: +46 8 440 50 50
e-mail: [emailprotected]

About R-GOL
R-GOL is the leading multi-brand distributor of football merchandise in CEE. The company currently operates in 14 countries in Europe. In addition to its core e-commerce channel, R-GOL also runs a network of 14 physicalshowrooms and works directly with over 1,000 football clubs, comprehensively meeting their needs.
www.r-gol.com

About Unisport
Unisportwas founded in 1995 in Copenhagen. In 2002, the first web shop was launched, serving football players and supporters with the best football gear, all over Denmark. Since then, Unisport has successfully launched football stores in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Holland, Germany, France, and Austria. Today, Unisport has over 8.5 million dedicated followers on SoMe, 1 billion YouTube views and one of the world's most extensive football loyalty programs with 1.3 million members.
www.unisportstore.com

About Innova Capital

Innova Capital is an independent private equity adviser operating from Poland and investing in majoritybuyouts in mid-sized enterprises doing business in Central and Eastern Europe. Since its inception in 1994, Innova Capital has invested close to EUR 1.2 billion in almost 70 companies across 10 countries in the region. Innova was recognized by the Polish Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (PSIK) as PE Management Firm of the Year 2023 & 2024.
www.innovacap.com

About Nordic Capital
Nordic Capital is a leading sector-specialist private equity investor with a resolute commitment to creating stronger, sustainable businesses through operational improvement and transformative growth. Nordic Capital focuses on selected regions and sectors where it has deep experience and a long history. Focus sectors are Healthcare, Technology & Payments, Financial Services, and Service & Industrial Tech. Key regions are Europe and globally for Healthcare and Technology & Payments investments. Since inception in 1989, Nordic Capital has invested EUR 25 billion in over 145 investments. The most recent entities are Nordic Capital XI with EUR 9.0 billion in committed capital and Nordic Capital Evolution with EUR 1.2 billion in committed capital, principally provided by international institutional investors such as pension funds. Nordic Capital Advisors have local offices in Sweden, the UK, the US, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and South Korea.
www.nordiccapital.com.

"Nordic Capital" refers to, depending on the context, any, or all, Nordic Capital branded entities, vehicles, structures, and associated entities. The general partners and/or delegated portfolio managers of Nordic Capital's entities and vehicles are advised by several non-discretionary sub-advisory entities, any or all of which are referred to as "Nordic Capital Advisors".

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R-GOL and Unisport to join forces for further international expansion (2024)
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