Stuart Weitzman could be headed to a new home — but how much the brand fetches will depend on whether the founding designer stays on.
Stefan Kaluzny, managing partner at private equity player Sycamore Partners, has hired bankers to sell the footwear brand, according to a source. Goldman Sachs is leading the effort with an assist from Citi.
Reuters, which first reported the sale process, said the company could fetch about $800 million. Sycamore picked up the business when it acquired The Jones Group in April in a $2.2 billion deal.
But bankers said the valuation would be determined by whether Weitzman, who is executive chairman, continues with the company. Wayne Kulkin is the chief executive officer.
When Sycamore recapitalized the business earlier this year, it was done “in partnership” with the brand, with Sycamore holding a majority stake. What that actually means is unclear, but bankers over the weekend said Weitzman does not hold any stake in the business. One banker said, “He is an employee, with an employment agreement.”
Typically businesses that are sold, especially top-end brands, can command a higher price when the owner and chief designer continue with the business. Should Weitzman, who is in his early 70s, elect not to stay on, the brand’s valuation could drop to below $500 million, sources said.
Weitzman is expected to again try to find partners to buy back the company.He’s done it once before. The firm was sold to a European firm in the Seventies, and then bought back by Weitzman about a decade before he resold the company to Jones Apparel Group in 2010 for $180 million. Jones, renamed The Jones Group Inc., was sold to Sycamore in April.
At the time Weitzman sold his company to Jones, it had sales of $193 million. Current estimated global volume for the brand’s wholesale and retail business is around $300 million.
Potential investment partners for Weitzman are financial sponsors, including overseas Asian investors. It couldn’t be immediately determined which private equity firms Weitzman had reached out to when he tried to buy back his company from Sycamore.
There’s been a growing appetite for brands with a solid positioning and room to expand. The shoe brand is seen as having opportunities to grow both internationally and through accessories.
Sycamore considered six or seven banks for the sale before settling on Goldman and Citi, the source said. Those other bankers might now try to reenter the process representing would-be buyers.
The business has about 44 stores in the U.S., 61 international doors and 10 international shops-in-shos as well as e-commerce sites in several markets.
A spokesman for Citi declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Goldman. Sycamore could not be reached.