LONDON — Could Mr. Jimmy Choo be plotting a return to the limelight — and to the brand that bears his name?
This story first appeared in the March 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
On Monday, a spokesman for Daniel Stewart, the London-based investment bank and corporate advisory firm, confirmed it is working with Choo in connection with the strategic review under way at the Jimmy Choo brand, now majority owned by TowerBrook Capital Partners LP.
“TowerBrook is looking at its options for the business. Mr. Jimmy Choo has hired Daniel Stewart so that he can assess his own options — and any ways that he might be able to participate in the process,” a spokesman said.
A spokeswoman for Choo himself, who makes shoes privately in London, declined to comment. She said Choo was out of the country on a long-term trip connected to his ongoing work for the British Council.
TowerBrook has retained Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to explore long-term strategic options for the footwear and accessories business. The review will most likely result in the sale of Jimmy Choo, but it could also lead to an initial public offering.
TowerBrook principals have been working alongside Tamara Mellon, the brand’s chief creative officer and a substantial shareholder in the business, and chief executive officer Joshua Schulman.
Mellon founded the business in 1996 with Choo, the Malaysian-born Chinese shoemaker whose clients then included Princess Diana and Choo’s niece Sandra Choi. In 2001, Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. bought out Choo’s shares in a transaction that valued the Jimmy Choo brand at about $30 million. Since then, Choo has been making bespoke shoes privately and acting as an ambassador for organizations including the British Council and the University of the Arts London.
Both the Jimmy Choo business and TowerBrook declined to comment on the strategic review, and on any potential bidders for the company.
However, an industry source said it’s unlikely that Choo would progress very far were he to launch a bid. His break with Mellon in 2001 was acrimonious, and he has had minimal contact with the company since then.
“Would TowerBrook sell against Mellon and Schulman? Would Mellon ever accept a Jimmy Choo owned by Mr. Jimmy Choo?” the source said.
A second industry source said Choo is unlikely to have the personal resources to mount a bid for the brand, but that he could have Asian investors willing to back him. Over the past months, there have been unsourced reports in the French press that some Chinese investors have expressed an interest in the Jimmy Choo brand.
Revenues at Jimmy Choo have more than doubled since TowerBrook purchased the company in 2007 to about 150 million pounds, or $242 million at current exchange. The brand has 111 stores, up from 77 units when TowerBrook made its purchase.
Late last year, the company launched its first fragrance, and earlier this year it unveiled its first collection of men’s footwear. Mellon has said that clothing, jewelry and home are all potentially in the pipeline.