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Fashion World Preps for Spate of IPOs

Two American fashion firms are planning upcoming listings on the New York Stock Exchange, while others are waiting in the wings.

The initial public offering market is getting active again, even as some fashion deals struggle to get completed.

This story first appeared in the September 26, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Two American fashion firms are planning upcoming listings on the New York Stock Exchange: Off-price retailer Burlington Stores plans to raise $200 million, and apparel firm Vince made public its registration statement Tuesday. Tween and teen accessories retailer Claire’s Inc., which in May said it plans to raise $100 million in an IPO, is also waiting in the wings, as is Moncler, which has said it wants to go for a stock market listing late this year or in early 2014.

Then there’s the social media site Twitter, which is expected to go public around Thanksgiving in one of the most-anticipated IPOs since Facebook’s public offering in May 2012. In addition, 13 other companies outside the fashion industry were planning on pricing their initial public offerings this week, according to an analyst blog on Rennaissance Capital. Three of those firms priced Tuesday and completed their IPOs on Wednesday. Down the road, word surfaced in Asia Wednesday morning that Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ended discussions with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and is now looking at listing its IPO in New York on the Nasdaq OMX Market in a move that could value the company at a minimum of $120 billion.

In late August, there were questions as to whether the IPO window would stay open given the-then global economic backdrop, particularly the fears of a Western-led attack in reaction to the Syrian government’s alleged used of chemical weapons within its borders. With those fears now diminished, companies seemed focused again on the business of liquidity attainment.

Those that manage to float would join newly public companies such as Coty Inc., which in June raised $1 billion with its public offering.

Twitter is expected to raise about $1.5 billion in its public offering, according to sources. The timing still could change, but sources said even if the flotation is delayed by a few weeks, the IPO is still expected to be completed by yearend. The IPO is expected to value the site at up to $16 billion.

The registration statement was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under a confidential cloak allowed under a provision of President Obama’s Jobs Act, which means that Twitter’s advertising revenue is under $1 billion. Estimates of its projected ad revenue base for 2013 range from about $600 million to $750 million, according to sources.

Burlington has set the terms for a $200 million IPO of 13.3 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16 a share. The Bain Capital-backed firm said Burlington would “command a fully diluted market value of $1.13 billion” at the midpoint of the proposed share-price range.

Burlington, which posted nearly $4.4 billion in annual volume for the year ended Aug. 3, plans to trade under the symbol “BURL.” The off-price retailer operates under the nameplates Burlington Coat Factory, Cohoes Fashions and MJM Designer Shoes.

Vince also is planning an IPO of up to $200 million.

The company filed a confidential filing in July with the SEC that was made public late Tuesday.

The filing, which said shares will trade under the symbol “VNCE,” did not state how many shares will be issued nor at what price.

The filing was made by Apparel Holding Corp., which holds the Vince business and the non-Vince businesses under the Kellwood umbrella. Following the IPO, Vince will become Vince Holding Corp. The non-Vince businesses will continue to be owned by Kellwood Holding Corp.

For the first six months ended Aug. 3, Vince posted net income of $2.4 million on net sales of $114.7 million. For fiscal-year 2012, net income was $10.3 million on net sales of $240.4 million. Comparable-store sales for the year rose 23.1 percent. Its vince.com direct-to-consumer business represented 19 percent of net sales for the first six months of fiscal 2013 and 16 percent of fiscal 2012 net sales.

Kellwood said in the filing it believes the U.S. market can support “at least 100 freestanding Vince store locations.” As of Aug. 31, Vince operated 26 stores comprising 21 full-price retail stores and five outlet sites. The wholesale business — retail door accounts including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, as well as specialty stores in the U.S. and international high-end luxury nameplates such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford — represented 70.4 percent of sales for the first half of fiscal-year 2013 and 76 percent of fiscal 2012 sales.

Apparel Holding, including the non-Vince businesses under Kellwood, posted a net loss of $25.6 million on net sales of $363.9 million for the first half. For fiscal-year 2012, the net loss was $107.7 million on net sales of $708 million.

Excluding Vince, Kellwood has four other operating segments. American Recreational Products captures the recreational apparel and products businesses under the Kelty, Sierra Designs and Isis brands, to name a few, which together posted $51.3 million in net sales for the first half of fiscal 2013 and $98.8 million in fiscal 2012. Juniors represents the collection of denim, dresses and sportswear labels in the tween and juniors space, whether branded, private label or under license, and posted $110.6 million in sales for the same first half and $181.6 million in 2012. Moderate, which did $32.2 million in sales for the first six months of fiscal 2013 and $78.1 million for fiscal 2012, is the category for moderate career and casual separates and pants sold through wholesale distribution and the private labels Sag Harbor and Briggs New York. In the Other segment, which posted $55.3 million in sales for the first half of 2013 and $109.1 million for fiscal 2012, are the aggregate volumes for the Rebecca Taylor, Democracy, Jax and Sangria brands and the licensed David Meister brand.

Kellwood acquired Vince in 2006. Kellwood itself was subsequently acquired by Sun Capital Partners in 2008 for an aggregate consideration of $955.4 million, including the assumption of debt, in a cash tender offer.

The flurry of IPO activity comes against a backdrop of several high-profile fashion deals hitting road bumps. As reported, Fifth & Pacific Co. Inc.’s talks to sell Lucky Brand and Juicy Couture have hit snags, while Joe’s Jeans’ acquisition of Hudson Jeans has been delayed.