Warner Music Group Enters Into Agreement to Acquire European Online Retailer EMP Merchandising

Courtesy of Warner Music Group 
      

The music & entertainment e-tailer will continue to operate with its current leadership team as a stand-alone direct-to-fan business.

Warner Music Group (WMG) announced on Monday (Sept. 17) it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire leading European music and entertainment merchandise online retailer EMP Merchandising Handelsgesellschaft mbH (EMP).

EMP is currently owned by New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners. When the deal is complete, EMP will operate with CEO Ernst Trapp and CFO Jan Fischer in their leadership positions as a stand-alone, direct-to-fan company within WEA -- WMG's global artist and label services division headed by President Tony Harlow.

EMP was founded in Germany in 1986 and today offers merchandise from artists including Twenty One Pilots, Panic! At The Disco, Metallica, Motörhead, Guns 'n' Roses, Nirvana and more. It also sells merchandise for major entertainment brands such as Disney and Marvel and gaming brands such as Nintendo and PlayStation, as well as the NFL and Vans. EMP operates a network of websites serving 18 European countries with millions of customers and a 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, in a statement. "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."

Added Max Lousada, CEO of Recorded Music, WMG: "In today's streaming world, merchandise is still one of the best ways that fans can express their passions and personalities. 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."

The deal is expected to close in the fourth calendar quarter of 2018 and is subject to approval by German authorities and satisfaction of other conditions. It follows other recent WMG acquisitions, including A&R data startup Sodatone, media brand UPROXX, electronic music label Spinnin' Records and the Songkick concert discovery app.

"It's always been our goal to create the most authentic, exclusive products," said Trapp in a statement. "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."