New York – November 6, 2020– AEA Investors’ (“AEA” or the “Firm”) Middle Market Private Equity team announced today that its fund has completed the sale of 1-800 Contacts, Inc. (“1-800 Contacts” or the “Company”) to a financial sponsor. 1-800 Contacts is the leading retailer of contact lenses in the U.S. with the largest direct-to-consumer platform bolstered by strategic B2B fulfillment partners and leading optical telemedicine technology.
Founded in 1995, 1-800 Contacts has pioneered growth of the online retail channel for contact lenses in the U.S. AEA acquired a majority position from THL Partners in 2016 and they remained a minority investor during AEA’s ownership. Under AEA’s ownership, the Company promoted and recruited significant talent in senior management and throughout the organization, allowing the business to deliver on the strategic vision for the business. The Company made improvements to customer acquisition and retention by refreshing the brand, upgrading the user experience, and implementing best-in-class digital marketing. Management introduced new products and services, including the ExpressExam online prescription renewal platform and AquaSoft private label lenses. During this time, the Company also made two acquisitions: 6over6, a leading vision care technology company, and Liingo, an online eyeglasses platform. 6over 6 positions the business to be the leader in optical telemedicine with the ability to offer remote eye exams. Liingo allows the Company to offer eyeglasses online in addition to contact lenses. This transaction underscores the Firm’s success in partnering with management to assemble best-in-class management teams and drive transformational growth, including in the areas of technology enabled consumer services.
AEA Investors LP was founded in 1968 by the Rockefeller, Mellon and Harriman family interests and S.G. Warburg & Co. as a private investment vehicle for a select group of industrial family offices with substantial assets. AEA has an extraordinary global network built over many years which includes leading industrial families, business executives and leaders; many of whom invest with AEA as active individual investors (“Participants”) and/or join its portfolio company boards or act in other advisory roles. Today, AEA’s approximately 90 investment professionals operate globally with offices in New York, Connecticut, London, Munich and Shanghai. The firm manages funds that have over $15 billion of invested and committed capital including the leveraged buyouts of middle market companies and small business companies and mezzanine and senior debt investments. AEA Private Equity invests across three sectors: value added industrials, consumer and services
About 1-800 Contacts, Inc.
1-800 Contacts is the largest retailer of contact lenses in the U.S., and is dedicated to making it easier for consumers to purchase contact lenses. Through its various products, the Company is positioned to be the leader in optical telemedicine. Through its award-winning website (www.1800contacts.com), its easy-to-remember telephone number, and its 5-star mobile app, the Company has served approximately 18 million customers. The Company also provides contact lens sourcing and fulfillment services to leading brick-and-mortar retailers.
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