Veteran PE Firm Thomas H. Lee To Capitalize On Ecommerce Trends

Growth in Ecommerce continues to be phenomenal. Recent estimates place total retail ecommerce sales at $560 billion in 2019, which is expected to increase to $735 billion by 2023. Leading the charge in the ecommerce arena are well-known companies; they include,,,,,,,,,, among many other household names.

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Notably, the billions of goods sold through ecommerce each year would not be possible without software to ensure speed and efficiency in storing and retrieving inventory.

There’s one company, that many have not heard of that does an outstanding job of making inventory management and warehouse operations a modern marvel. That company is AutoStore, founded in 1996 and located in Nedre Vats, Norway; and it equips warehouses with modular stacking of storage bins easily placed and moved by a sophisticated combination of robots and software. And with over 11,000 robots in operation across 28 countries, AutoStore is the most deployed provider of grid-based, high density goods-to-person systems, participating in the global automated storage and retrieval systems (“ASRS”) market.

Thomas H. Lee, one of the oldest and most experience private equity firms, recently announced it would acquire the company. The firm was founded in 1974 and throughout its history has invested in over 140 companies with an aggregate value of over $150 billion. Its focus is on growth-oriented businesses, headquartered primarily in North America, across four sectors: Business & Financial Services, Consumer & Retail, Healthcare, and Media, Information Services & Technology.

With the backing of private equity, AutoStore will have the resources needed to build upon its leading robotic technology and software platform, accelerate new product innovation for its customers, and execute on broader global growth objectives.

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to partner with the AutoStore team," said Jim Carlisle, Managing Director at THL. "Through its grid-based technology and proprietary software platform, AutoStore has developed a superb reputation in the marketplace underpinned by its visionary engineering and R&D talent, impressive global distribution network, and exceptional product quality. We are excited to invest behind Karl Johan and his team and look forward to supporting AutoStore’s rapid growth."

Jim joined Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2000. Previously, he worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Financial Institutions Group. He is currently a director of, Fortna, Material Handling Systems, Inc., Ten-X Commercial and a board observer at Univision Communications, Inc. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.