NEW YORK — Jeffry Aronsson, most recently chief executive officer of Donna Karan International, has formed a company focused on acquisitions and proprietary brand development in the luxury market.
Aronsson, a former corporate attorney who also served as ceo of Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta, said the firm, Aronsson Group LLC, at 450 Park Avenue here, will “target opportunities no matter what size, provided we see the potential for scale and sustainable profitability.”
“Our targets can be everything from restructurings and turnarounds of existing operating branded businesses to partnering with up-and-coming innovative designers and talent to build important brands with significant sales and profits,” he said. “We are currently looking at a broad spectrum of deal sizes, which currently range from capital needs of less than $50 million to more than $1 billion.”
Aronsson, whose partner is Shauna Mei, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the investment capital behind the company is from financial and strategic partners.
“Our strategic partner for a particular deal must be best in class for a key service or supplier role required for a given target,” he said. “We take the strategic co-investor approach to maximize alignment.”
During his more than 15 years on Seventh Avenue, Aronsson traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, striking retail and distribution deals, particularly for the Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan brands. Using his legal background, he also crafted these agreements to secure brand protection, something he plans to do with his new firm, as well.
Mei’s private equity and leveraged finance investment banking experience at Goldman Sachs included working with Neiman Marcus, Dunkin’ Donuts, Aramark, Bolthouse and BMG Music Publishing.. Mei, a Beijing native who is fluent in Mandarin, conceived a fashion retail concept for Asia while developing market analysis for China.
The partners have developed a model for how the firm will operate.
“Once we target a company, we have a process for analyzing the prospective acquisition,” Aronsson said. “Our next step is to assemble a key management/talent team, possibly including a ceo. We study the company together with the management team and prepare a strategic plan for the company. Once we close on a transaction, our plan is to deep dive into the company’s operations to support our executive team to get on track with the strategic plan we prepared. Once on track, I take a non-executive chairman role.”
This story first appeared in the January 16, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Aronsson said he hoped to make the firm’s first acquisition soon.