Warner Music Group today announced it has entered into a “definitive agreement” to acquire EMP Merchandising Handelsgesellschaft mbH (EMP), a European specialty music and entertainment merchandise e-tailer, for approximately $180 million. EMP is currently owned by Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm based in New York. While terms of the deal were not revealed in the announcement, the purchase price was included in an SEC filing first reported by Music Business Worldwide.
Once the deal is complete, 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. 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 today offers merchandise from artists including 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 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.”
“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.”
“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.”
This deal will follow other recent acquisitions aimed at expanding WMG’s recorded music business, including the A&R insight tool Sodatone; the media brand Uproxx; electronic music label Spinnin’ Records; 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.