Warner Music Group has entered into an agreement to acquire EMP Merchandising Handelsgesellschaft mbH, one of Europe’s leading specialty music and entertainment merchandise e-tailers. Currently owned by private equity firm Sycamore Partners, EMP will become a stand-alone, direct-to-fan business unit within WEA, WMG’s global artist and label services division headed by President Tony Harlow, once the deal is complete. The company is led by CEO Ernst Trapp and CFO Jan Fischer, who will continue to manage EMP as a fully-staffed organization.
Founded in Germany in 1986, EMP offers fans merchandise from bands like Twenty One Pilots, Panic! At The Disco, Metallica, Motörhead, Guns n Roses, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, The Doors, and many others. Beyond music, the company has established itself as a lifestyle e-tailer, offering merchandise from major entertainment brands such as Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Harry Potter; gaming brands such as Nintendo and PlayStation; sporting franchises such as the NFL; and alternative fashion brands such as Vans. The company operates a network of websites serving 18 European countries, with a community of millions of customers, and a fast-growing paid loyalty program.
“EMP has built a powerful lifestyle destination that will be a perfect complement to our global artist development and marketing strategies,” said Stu Bergen, CEO of International & Global Commercial Services, Recorded Music, WMG. “Their music-led expertise will give us great insight into what audiences love and what they want, and at the same time open up exciting new opportunities for our artists. We look forward to bringing Ernst, Jan, and everyone at EMP into WMG’s growing family of brands.”
“In today’s streaming world, merchandise is still one of the best ways that fans can express their passions and personalities,” said Max Lousada, CEO of Recorded Music, WMG. “It’s also a big part of how music has visible and physical impact on global culture and fashion. Welcoming EMP will be our latest move to expand our relationships with influencers across the globe.”
“It’s always been our goal to create the most authentic, exclusive products,” said Ernst Trapp. “Our team is made up of devoted fans who are curating the music, themes, and lifestyle brands that they know fellow fans will embrace. By joining WMG, we will be able to expand our international reach, explore new genres, reach new audiences, and take fan experience to a whole new level.”
The deal follows other recent acquisitions aimed at expanding WMG’s recorded music business, including Sodatone, the world’s premier A&R insight tool; UPROXX, one of the most influential media brands for youth culture; Spinnin’ Records, one of the world’s leading independent electronic music companies; and Songkick, the live music and ticketing destination.
The acquisition is anticipated to close in the fourth calendar quarter of 2018, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions including competition authority approval in Germany.
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