Minneapolis, Minnesota – Norwest Equity Partners (NEP), a leading middle market investment firm, has announced that it has made an investment in eyebobs, the most recognizable brand in the reading glasses market. The transaction closed on March 12, 2015; financial terms were not disclosed.
eyebobs was born from Founder and President, Julie Allinson’s, own frustration that she could not find high-quality, stylish readers at an affordable price. She set out on her own to study the eyewear business in Italy and Asia which led her to start eyebobs. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Minneapolis, eyebobs designs a unique line of readers which are branded for the irreverent and slightly jaded consumer.
Over the years, eyebobs has successfully created a niche in the eyewear market by developing a line of distinctive, high-quality reading glasses sold at an exceptional value. eyebobs products have changed consumers’ concept of reading glasses from an unwelcome necessity to a statement-making fashion accessory. eyebobs sells to high-end retail stores as well as direct to consumers through eyebobs.com. NEP’s investment capital is a significant milestone for eyebobs and will be leveraged to fuel further growth.
Tim Kuehl, an NEP partner and eyebobs board member, stated, “We are thrilled to invest locally and believe that eyebobs has the potential for significant growth. Within the U.S. alone, approximately 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction and nearly 100% need reading help sometime after age 40. We believe a gap exists in the market today for high quality and luxury reading glasses at an affordable price. The eyebobs value proposition satisfies this market opportunity as evidenced by its already loyal base of consumers. We are excited to work with Julie and her management team to significantly grow the business by building awareness for the product and broadening distribution both with existing and new channel partners.”
Allinson commented on the investment by NEP, “The entire eyebobs team is excited to work with an investment partner such as NEP. The firm has a long-standing history and reputation for success, and having a local partner is an added perk. We look forward to tapping into NEP’s industry knowledge, investment experience, and leveraging its extensive network of relationships. We are confident that NEP will help eyebobs achieve its next stage of growth.”
NEP has been investing in growing and profitable middle market companies since 1961 and has deep experience working with both Minnesota-based companies as well as companies focused within the consumer industry. NEP’s investment in eyebobs is similar to its former investment in Shock Doctor Sports, a leading Minnesota-based leader in mouthguard technology and considered the leading innovator in sports protection around the globe. When NEP first invested in Shock Doctor, the company possessed many of the same qualities as eyebobs: locally-based; great branded products, unmatched customer loyalty, and tremendous product and distribution expansion opportunities. Over the course of NEP’s six-year investment, Shock Doctor introduced several new product lines, nearly tripled overall revenue, and doubled its number of employees before being sold to Bregal Partners.
Other notable Minnesota-based investments over the years include Apothecary Products, Life Time Fitness, Minnesota Rubber & Plastics, Gopher Resource, Norwesco, Select Comfort, and Lindstrom Metric. More information on NEP and the firm’s investment history can be found on www.nep.com.
eyebobs operates out of a 36,000 square foot facility in downtown Minneapolis and employs 26 people. For more information, visit www.eyebobs.com. Imperial Capital served as financial advisor to eyebobs and Maslon provided legal counsel. Lindquist & Vennum provided legal services to NEP on this transaction.