Livingbridge invests in re-commerce platform World Of Books Group
Livingbridge, one of the UK’s leading mid-market private equity investors, has invested in World of Books Group (Wob), a UK online re-seller of second-hand books.
Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex, Wob is a re-commerce business operating within the books sector, committed to acting as a force for good. Its purpose driven actions focus on three areas – the promotion of used goods; championing literacy by helping to make books more widely accessible; and taking action to reduce carbon emissions – each aligned with the UN Sustainable Development goals of responsible consumption, quality education and climate action.
Wob’s experienced leadership team, led by CEO Graham Bell, has developed a highly scalable and sustainable platform to support future growth. It sources its books via well-established charitable partnerships – including the British Heart Foundation – and directly from consumers through the Ziffit app, and then sells them through its own website as well as via Amazon, eBay and other specialist marketplaces.
Wob has built a data-driven proprietary technology platform, which integrates with its three highly automated warehouses in Coventry, Goring-on-Sea and Cincinnati. This year, Wob expects to generate revenues of over GBP100 million, a 30 per cent YOY increase.
Livingbridge will leverage its heritage in supporting mission-led businesses, in order to maintain the high standards established by existing investor Bridges Fund Management and the leadership team, and to support Wob’s vision, as a certified B-Corp company, to become a global leader in re-commerce – protecting the planet and supporting its charities.
The growth strategy will focus on expanding its repeat customer base, growing both its direct sourcing and selling mix. It will also continue to drive greater efficiency through automation and use of technology. Livingbridge will capitalise on its regional offices in the US and Australia to drive WoB’s geographic expansion into these and other markets.
The investment, made through the GBP1.2 billion Livingbridge 7 fund, builds on Livingbridge’s longstanding track record of backing multifaceted sourcing and selling businesses which are able to dominate their vertical, including Sykes Holiday Cottages, Superbikes, loveholidays and Direct Ferries.
Susie Stanford at Livingbridge, says: “Livingbridge are delighted to be supporting World of Books in this exciting next chapter of its growth. As the largest reseller and recycler of books in the UK, the business has already supported many UK Charities and literacy causes, as well as allowing millions of book readers to discover great quality used books. We are excited to bring our ecommerce and Internationalisation experience to the business, and proud to stand behind its B-Corp status in its mission to protect the planet and support Charities by encouraging people to reuse.”
Graham Bell, CEO at World of Books, says: “We’re thrilled to have Livingbridge as our partner. They have shown huge passion for our business model, and align with our belief that businesses play a critical role in creating a positive impact. They have a track record of supporting growing companies and we are excited to work with them to maximise our potential. Together we will continue to provide brilliant service to our customers, our charity partners, our planet and the other communities we serve.
We also extend our thanks to Bridges Fund Management who have supported us over the last five years and we are delighted that they will remain invested in the Group as a minority shareholder.”
Oliver Wyncoll of Bridges says: “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.”