MILAN — Italy’s Binda Group is merging with America’s Geneva Watch Group to create a $650 million-plus timepiece and jewelry firm with ambitions of becoming a key player in the global watch and accessories market.
Binda Group said Thursday it had acquired 100 percent of Kenneth Cole licensee Advance Watch Group Ltd. — known commercially as Geneva Watch Group — from U.S. private equity fund Heritage Partners for an undisclosed sum.
“This acquisition…allows our group to further strengthen its international presence and share competencies with a successful U.S. company,” Binda Group co-chief executive officer Marcello Binda said. The Italian company owns the Breil Milano, Breil Tribe, Wyler Genève and Details brands, and produces under license watches and jewels for D&G, Moschino Cheap & Chic and Ducati, among others.
Geneva Watch Group ceo Jeff Gregg will remain in his post, reporting to Binda Group managing director Gianni Pieraccioni.
Geneva’s brand portfolio includes licenses for Kenneth Cole — which is second only to Guess in the U.S. in terms of share of the fashion watch market — Tommy Bahama, Betsey Johnson, BCBG Max Azria, Ted Baker London, Mexx and Speedo. The firm distributes these brands in 4,000 doors, including department stores Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom and independent retailers.
Geneva also owns the surf and water sports timepiece label Freestyle, which it sells via 5,300 outlets, including specialist chains and independent retailers, as well as serving major retailing chains like Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart in North America via its mass market Advance business unit.
Geneva ended fiscal 2008 with net revenues of $192 million, selling around 25 million watches.
Gregg described the merger as “complementary,” enabling Geneva to grow outside the U.S., where it currently generates 95 percent of revenues, and Binda, which has budgeted for 5 percent of sales from the U.S. this year, to ramp up its penetration in America.
“We are very excited about the strengths to be gained by working with such an internationally successful company as Binda and the benefits it will bring to our customers and brands,” Gregg said.
The combined group now expects sales in the U.S. in 2008 in excess of $200 million, or 30 percent of total worldwide business. Full-year annualized global sales are slated to hit 456 million euros, or $660 million at current exchange.
The transaction brings to a close Boston-based Heritage Partners protracted efforts to sell Geneva after an aborted auction five years ago. Heritage acquired the company in 1999.
Binda said the investment benefited from the current strength of the euro against the dollar and came without debt.
The deal bolsters significantly Binda’s presence in North America in terms of distribution and market share, which the company hopes will help it to compete with rivals Timex, Fossil and Movado.
It should also facilitate Binda’s efforts to develop Breil Milano into a global lifestyle brand, after diversifying recently into fragrances (2006), eyewear (2007) and leather accessories (2008).
“[The merger is] a leap forward, which enables us to gain key strategic assets for the development and growth of our group in terms of know-how and industrial and commercial strength,” Pieraccioni said.
The merger also provides economies of scale upstream in sourcing and production, with Geneva operating a 1,500-employee-strong manufacturing unit in China for the last 10 years.
In the short term, Binda said the deal would accelerate the growth of Geneva portfolio brands in Europe and the rest of the world — highlighting Kenneth Cole and Freestyle as having international potential — and in turn step up the penetration of its own portfolio of brands in the U.S. and consolidate manufacturing and sourcing efforts.
By 2015, Binda Group aims to be a global player, generating revenues of 1 billion euros, or $1.45 billion.
Binda, which was established in 1906, closed 2007 with consolidated revenues of 297 million euros, or $407 million at average exchange, from the sale of approximately 5 million pieces. The group’s offer ranges from mass market products manufactured in the Far East with retail prices below 75 euros, or $109, to Swiss-made products with average prices at around 1,000 euros, or $1,447, to intricate tourbillon watches retailing up to and beyond 130,000 euros, or $188,100.
The firm operates globally via 50 distributors, serving over 12,000 retail stores worldwide, 24 Breil Milano monobrand boutiques and 23 B-Hip! multibrand units.
Binda Group also distributes the Seiko, Lorus and Paris Hilton watch brands in Italy and the Glam Rock watch label in Italy, the U.S. and Canada.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)