Joseph Corré & Serena Rees
3i Group PLC
The British lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur was started in 1994 by Joseph Corré, son of Vivienne Westwood, and his now ex-wife Serena Rees. Their first store was launched that year in London's Soho district, on Broadwick Street in 1994. The couple’s aim was to sell high-end lingerie.
Rees had grown tired of seeing women wear dull underwear and had the idea to found a lingerie shop packed with bright and trendy undergarments. The pair’s initial objective was to offer the finest lingerie from across the globe. As they were unable to locate enough of what they liked, they made the decision to found their very own brand.
Rees and Corré crafted a strict confidentiality agreement in order to protect their clients. The celebrity community has been warmly receptive to the brand since its inception and as a result the company uses celebrity models for the majority of its advertising campaigns.
Following Corré and Rees' 2007 divorce, the private equity house 3i bought Agent Provocateur for £60m. The company is presently run by chief executive Garry Hogarth.
In the wake of the takeover, the brand spread into 13 countries, with more than 30 stores. The cost of expansion led to the company’s profits dropping 18pc to £2.2m by March 2008.