May 1, 2019

Cewe to acquire professional print service Whitewall

The Swedish investment firm EQT, owner of Avenso GmbH based in Berlin, Germany, which operates the two brands Whitewall and Lumas, has sold the company’s Whitewall operations to Cewe, the European leader in photo printing. The transaction, which is subject to approval by the relevant antitrust authorities, ist expected to be completed by June 1, 2019. According to a press release, Cewe will operate Whitwall as a separate entity with its own brand.

According to its own statements, Whitewall serves 250,000 customers worldwide, 20,000 of the are professional photographers, artists, galleires and collectors, while the remainder includes photo and art enthusiasts as well as corporate customers. The core business of the company, which also offers photobooks, photo prints and calendars of superior quality, is the manufacturing of gallery-quality murals, According to a press release, the transaction does not include Avenso’s Lumas business, a leading multichannel vendor for affordable museum grade wall art which was sold to its co-founder Marc Ullrich. In addition to its online business, Lumas operates 32 galleries wordwide, 18 or them in Germany, 7 in major cities in other European countries plus 7 in North America, Asia and Australia. Lumas photo art will continue to be produced in Whitewall’s production facility in Frechen near Cologne, Germany, while the Lumas galleries in New York City, Vienna, Zurich, Cologne, Frankfurt and Paris will continue to accomodate WhiteWall shop-in-shops.

With the acquisition, Cewe will also take over the approximately 170 employees of WhiteWall in Berlin and Frechen as well as in their own stores. Alexander Nieswandt, Founder and Managing Director of WhiteWall, will continue in his function. Upon completion of the transaction, Thomas Alscheid, who has been with the Cewe Group for more than ten years, will also be appointed Managing Director of Whitewall.

“The acquisition of WhiteWall fits perfectly with our brand portfolio and Cewe's premium strategy," commented Cewe’s CEO Dr. Christian Friege. “WhiteWall is an impressive brand and delivers superior quality in the top premium segment. This will further strengthen the market position of the Cewe Group as a whole.”

“I am very pleased that, with the European market leader Cewe as our partner and owner, we have the opportunity to further expand WhiteWall as a premium brand“, added Alexander Nieswandt. “Cewe’s philosophy of a long-term commitment is also great advantage for WhiteWall and its employees.”

Marc Ullrich, Co-Founder & CEO of Avenso, was also satisfied with the transaction: “We are delighted to know that WhiteWall is in good hands. Cewe and WhiteWall stand for outstanding product quality and good customer service. For us, it is essential that the independence of the WhiteWall brand will be maintained. The financial strength and the expertise of the Cewe Group is a safe base for the further development of WhiteWall.”

The involved parties expect the transaction to be completed by June 1, 2019. The final purchase price, which is to be paid in cash, will be based on an enterprise value of Euro 30 million according to an interim financial statement as of the end of May 2019, representing approximately 0.9 times the 2018 sales of the business unit to be acquired. As a result of the takeover, the Cewe Executive Board expects a negative EBIT effect of around one million euros for the current financial year (including purchase price allocation and transaction costs), but said the investment will have a sustained positive effect on the value of the entire company.

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