Fenn Wright Manson, the contemporary womenswear brand and retailer, has been sold to Darwin Private Equity for an undisclosed sum. Former Fat Face chief executive Louise Barnes has been hired as executive chairman.

Managing director Colin Fenn, the only remaining founder of Fenn Wright Manson, has stepped down from his position with immediate effect.

Excluding Fenn himself, the existing management team of Patrick Hollwey, Claire Lawrence, Sharon Jones, Anju Mahbubani and Maggie Chan will remain with the business. All have reinvested in Fenn Wright Manson as part of the deal.

In addition to the appointment of Barnes, who also previously held the role of brand director at Monsoon, Darwin has bolstered the board with the appointment of Sheila Wye as finance director. Wye was previously finance director of Gold Group International, which owns Knickerbox and Ann Summers.

Jonathan Kaye, partner of Darwin Private Equity, said the firm had plans to roll out more standalone stores and expand Fenn Wright Manson’s petites collection, which launched last year. He said: “Fenn Wright Manson is a fantastic business, and we see great potential for further development. The business has a strong and experienced management team in place which will be further enhanced by the addition of Louise and Sheila. We look forward to working with them to invest in and develop this exciting opportunity, whilst retaining Fenn Wright Manson’s reputation for quality built up over many years.”

Fenn Wright Manson was established in 1974. It has 12 stores, 61 department store concessions and 400 wholesale stockists.

Colin Fenn said: “I am exceptionally proud to have been involved in building such a wonderful business over the past 36 years with a truly fantastic team of people. I am sure that Darwin will be a good partner for the business and I share their vision of its potential. I will be sure to keep in touch and will enjoy watching the business continue to progress and succeed.”