Goldsmiths owner Aurum has been sold to US private equity house Apollo as chairman Don McCarthy steps down.

The acquisition of Aurum, which also operates Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland, is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2013. Apollo also owns Claire’s Accessories parent company Claire’s Stores.

Although McCarthy, who is also chairman of House of Fraser, is departing Aurum, the rest of the management team, including chief executive Justin Stead will remain at the business.

It is unclear whether the Aurum management team has retained a stake in the business. Along with McCarthy, the management team held around 40% of the retail group.

McCarthy said: “The acquisition by Apollo will provide Aurum with an outstanding platform for the company’s anticipated future growth and the development of compelling opportunities that exist within the business currently.

“Throughout the past three years Aurum has outperformed the market and this is a credit to Justin Stead and the management team who have executed a robust and focused strategic plan.”

Stead thanked McCarthy for his “outstanding leadership”. He said: “We are incredibly enthusiastic about Apollo’s acquisition and we believe their retail industry expertise and broad resources and capabilities across the leisure and commodities sectors will foster our continued growth and success.”

McCarthy also owns a stake in department store House of Fraser alongside Landsbanki. It is understood that Sports Direct tycoon and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is in talks to acquire a stake in the department store.

Apollo was advised by DC Advisory.