Eschenbach Optik GmbH – Passing on the baton

In 1913, Josef Eschenbach founded a trading company for vision aids. His son and grandchildren expanded Eschenbach into a market leader for spectacle frames and distance vision products. The Nuremberg based company became well known for its TITANflex spectacles, winning numerous design awards. In 1999, the family sold shares to HANNOVER Finanz and handed over the company’s operations to the management. Soon, the company also became the global market leader in the field of optical aids. In 2007, Barclays Private Equity acquired the shares from HANNOVER Finanz.

Today, Eschenbach achieves annual sales of over 140 million Euros with 12 subsidiaries and 600 employees in over 80 countries, and is expanding internationally by means of acquisitions.

The results

The management buy-out (MBO) financed by the HANNOVER Finanz Group, combined with a management buy-in (MBI), has secured the future of the business. During the partnership, Eschenbach has been able to

  • transform the family business into a management-led operation and by doing so secure its future on a fiercely competitive market,
  • increase sales considerably and push ahead with expansion in Europe,
  • strengthen its market leadership in high-quality spectacle frames and establish its own brands,
  • become a global market leader for vision aids and establish the “Technical Optics” division.

The partnership

In 1998, the grandchildren of the founder began to implement their long planned retirement from active business. They broadened the capital base of their company with the assistance of an investor, and sold shares to two members of the existing management and one manager from outside with entrepreneurial ambitions. HANNOVER Finanz supported the Eschenbach family in implementing the classical MBO / MBI strategy and concerting all the shares in a holding company. The Eschenbachs documented their ties with the company by retaining a participating interest. HANNOVER Finanz remained a shareholder for eight years, supporting all those involved in the transformation of the Eschenbach Group into a management-led business. In 2007, for the next phase of growth, Eschenbach once again attracted a financial investor, who took over the shares from the HANNOVER Finanz Group and the Eschenbach family.

The entrepreneur’s view

Dr. Wolfgang Rebstock: “The investor gave us stability. We were at liberty to transform the family business into an operation led by the new management and put our growth plans into practice. The collaboration with an experienced investor with a reputation for developing businesses was highly advantageous to us. It was also important to me that HANNOVER Finanz did not interfere in the operational management. A good investor does not do that.

Together with HANNOVER Finanz, we established the conditions necessary for an international investor, Barclays Private Equity, to take over the shares from HANNOVER Finanz in 2007, so that we can now pursue our international expansion further.”