Stanley Gibbons PLC

The Business

Stanley Gibbons is the home of stamp collecting.

With a distinguished heritage dating back to 1856, Stanley Gibbons is the world’s longest established rare stamp merchant. With their much-heralded experts at the heart of everything they do, they travel globally in search of authentic, high quality material - often of extreme rarity and value. It is this adherence to quality that earned Stanley Gibbons the Royal Warrant in 1914 and affords the company the luxury of being able to offer a lifetime guarantee on all rare items - Stanley Gibbons remains the only philatelist in the world to offer this assurance.

Stanley Gibbons continues to serve hobbyists, collectors and philatelists alike and are proud to continue their association with the Royal Philatelic Collection. To this day the Stanley Gibbons shop, based opposite the Savoy on the Strand, offers the broadest selection of retail philatelic stock of any store on the planet with over a million stamps available to browse and purchase.

The Story

Our investment in Stanley Gibbons is a great example of our flexibility when it comes to structure.

The business went through a scandalous period where it let a lot of customers down by selling investment contracts which they could not honour. They also lost sight of the single most important part of any business – the customer.

We stepped in to save this British institution at a time when lenders and existing shareholders could not. Castelnau Group holds a majority stake in the business, but also owns the debt, some receivables from a subsidiary and some rare and collectible stamps directly.

To add to this interesting structure, we also supplied the management. Graham Shircore, a Partner from our investment manager, has been running the business for a couple of years now.

The Opportunity

The Investment Manager's vision is that Stanley Gibbons can now rebuild and update its business from a single location and reach a worldwide audience through an effective digital strategy.

The desire to collect and engage in hobbies is increasing alongside disposable income and leisure time. These are all boosted by the prevailing demographic trends as people live longer and have a better quality of life.

However, to achieve the potential and attract new customers it is essential for Stanley Gibbons to modernise and make the most of new technologies and insights. In this respect, the internet, rather than hurting a business like Stanley Gibbons, in fact does the opposite. It allows a unique, single iconic location in London to reach a worldwide audience inexpensively, and for a business so rich in intellectual property and knowledge to offer an engaging and immersive experience tailored to the interest of the customer.

We believe that the building blocks for an attractive business are there in terms of the brand, heritage, reputation and capability. We are also drawing down on the expert digital resource from Rawnet, another Castelnau Group family member, to help us expedite this journey and drive value creation.