Bridges sells World of Books stake
We are delighted to announce that Bridges has sold a majority stake in World of Books, the market-leading technology company, to private equity investor Livingbridge, delivering a highly successful exit for Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund III.
In 2016, Bridges was selected as the preferred bidder for World of Books in a very competitive process, thanks to our strong alignment with management on impact and sustainability, and our shared vision of the scale of the re-commerce opportunity.
Following our investment, the Bridges team worked hard to build the foundations for successful growth, strengthening the management team and board, supporting the business to better articulate its vision and values, and investing substantial capex in a new facility in Coventry to increase capacity. Since the transition to new CEO Graham Bell (who originally joined as COO) in 2019, the business has been firmly in growth mode. We have significantly expanded World of Books’ own website, to diversify away from its previous reliance on Amazon; expanded its app Ziffit, to diversify its sourcing; launched an app called Shopiago to help charities better manage their stock; and expanded significantly into international markets, including the US. Under Bridges’ ownership, World of Books has sold more than 50m books around the globe, and become one of the world’s most successful and innovative re-commerce businesses.
Importantly, Bridges’ investment in World of Books has not just been a financial success. It has also delivered important positive environmental outcomes: during our ownership the company averted almost 23,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, both by re-selling or recycling books that would otherwise have gone to landfill, and by reducing its own direct emissions following an extensive energy and transport audit (with support from Bridges’ impact team). In 2019, it certified as a B Corporation, reflecting its commitment to putting impact at the heart of its business model.
When the business came to market this year, it attracted a high level of interest from a range of financial buyers. In addition to its strong financial performance, many of the bidders also cited the sustainability of the business and the quality of the impact management work done by the Bridges team as key attractions.
Such is our confidence in the scale of the growth opportunity for World of Books, and the strength of the team, that we have negotiated as part of the deal an option to re-invest alongside Livingbridge. This will allow our investors to benefit from the significant upside potential that we believe World of Books offers over the next cycle; and it also means the business can continue to draw on Bridges’ in-depth knowledge of the sector and market-leading impact management expertise.
Oliver Wyncoll of Bridges said:
“We are really proud of the progress World of Books has made under Bridges’ period of majority ownership. By investing in its people, its facilities, and its market-leading technology, it has become one of Europe’s leading re-commerce businesses – bringing the joy of books to millions of people and saving thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions. We remain hugely positive about World of Books’ future potential – so we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to continue our involvement with the business as a minority shareholder, working closely with Livingbridge, to support the company as it embarks upon the next chapter of its growth story.”
About World of Books (https://www.worldofbooks.com/)
In 2008 World of Books was founded with an ethos to do good, help charities and make a positive impact. It has grown from a start-up to become a leading global seller of quality used books, and a pioneer in re-use and recycling. Its inventory has grown to over 7 million items in stock, and it sells a book somewhere in the world every two seconds. In 2019, it became an accredited B Corporation (a certification for companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy).
World of Books’ vision is to be a global leader in re-commerce. The group comprises three re-commerce technology businesses: World of Books, Ziffit and Shopiago.
– World of Books is a leading global seller of used books online to millions of customers; directly, though third-party platforms and wholesale partners.
– Ziffit is an app and website to sell unwanted books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and games for cash. One of the largest trade-in sites in the UK and US, the Ziffit business model is 100% circular.
– Shopiago is an online sales software product that is utilised by charities to generate additional revenue for good causes and enable more goods to be reused.
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