Que Font Les Fonds ? Le portrait de Nouvel Atlas

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Created in 2021 and managed by Antoine Lemarchand, Nouvel Atlas is a 100% subsidiary of Mercator, the historic family office of the Lemarchand family. The structure has direct stakes in French companies active in sports, education and craft know-how.

Antoine Lemarchand comes from a line of entrepreneurs. His parents founded Pier Import in the 1970s and Nature & Découvertes in the 1990s. Early in his career, he founded and sold several companies himself. “After selling two companies in digital and retail without fully understanding how sales work, I decided to continue my studies and pursue an MBA in finance between HEC, LSE and NYU.”shares.

Nouvel Atlas, subsidiary of Mercator, family offices of the Lemarchand family

At the same time, he started helping his father with the development of Nature & Découvertes, especially with e-commerce, CRM and international development. “I loved working for Nature & Découvertes. When my father wanted to move on in 2009, I took over to give continuity to the family history”, says Antoine Lemarchand. He will manage the operation until 2021, two years after its takeover by the FNAC-DARTY group.

In the fall of 2021, Antoine Lemarchand took over the family holding, which he transformed into a family office named Mercator. “We wrote the investment thesis, the values, structured the management and created the investment committee,” explains. The family office was initially engaged in real estate activities, in particular managing the rental of a warehouse park, which it has owned for around twenty years. At the same time, Mercator invests in LBO funds with a strong ESG connotation, in particular Turenne Capital and LBO France, and in social impact funds such as Phitrust, Investir &+ or Ring capital. The SICAV family also invests in energy, mobility and new construction. “We don’t want to tick all the boxes, but we are very attentive to the topics of decarbonisation, compensation or employee share and related designations”comments Antoine Lemarchand.

In 2021, he created Nouvel Atlas, a 100% subsidiary of Mercator that invests directly in companies. They focus on three sectors: outdoor, education and craft know-how. Nouvel Atlas has invested in twelve companies to date, for a total of 12.7 million.

Outdoor, the most developed sector in New Atlas

Outdoor is the most developed sector with the bicycle brand Mustache, media and travel agency Chilowcompany Millet-Lafuma, or even EverideVinted from outside. “We mainly focus on companies with a turnover of at least one million euros, but we make some forays into startups like Chilowé or Everide,” clarifies Antoine Lemarchand.

Nouvel Atlas invested in education Schoolab. “Since we were not very developed in education, we also invested through Nouvel Atlas directly in the Educapital fund, with which we could also co-invest in the future.”shares of Antoine Lemarchand.

Finally, craftsmanship know-how. “With Nature & Découvertes, we have established connections with many European and French family suppliers. There is a lot of know-how, but sometimes companies are not sufficiently structured commercially. By investing in these companies, we can also support them,” says Antoine Lemarchand.

An investment thesis that is still under construction

“Our thesis will change a bit. So far, we have invested as a minority, except for Chilo, where we are the owners. Today, instead, we are trying to reduce the number of investments and increase the number of tickets to become the majority,” confides Antoine Lemarchand. Nouvel Atlas is therefore looking for companies with a turnover between 2 and 10 million, profitable or almost profitable. “ We would run these businesses alongside founders who want to have their family by their side for the long term. We have real mentoring and coaching capabilities and strong added value in legal, financial and marketing support.” he says.

Nouvel Atlas is looking for entrepreneurs who care about impact and who want to be supported in this dimension. “We don’t want people who are putting off impact until later if there’s no profitability. One does not work without the other, for us sustainability is an inherent part of the impact”, confides Antoine Lemarchand. All this takes place within the framework of a comprehensive overall approach. Each year, 2 million euros from Mercator’s results are donated to the Lemarchand Family Foundation.

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