By  on June 19, 2011

PARIS French contemporary brand The Kooples has sold a 20 percent stake in its capital to private equity fund LBO France for an undisclosed sum in order to fund its international development.

The transaction underscores the rapid growth in recent years of French fashion labels with an “affordable luxury” positioning such as Sandro, Maje and Zadig & Voltaire, which has made them a prime target for investors looking for high returns.

Founded in 2008 by brothers Alexandre, Laurent and Raphael Elicha, The Kooples has 160 points of sale in France and 15 in the United Kingdom, where it opened its first store last November. The brand has said it also wants to open stores in the United States and Asia.

It expects to generate earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 25 million euros, or $35.4 million at current exchange, for its 2010/2011 fiscal year (Sept. 1 to Aug. 31) on forecast sales of 100 million euros, or $141.5 million.

This compares with sales of 37 million euros, or $50.6 million, for the 2009/2010 fiscal year. All dollar rates are calculated at average exchange rates for the period in question.

“We share with LBO France the desire to seize opportunities for growth overseas and to create a real leader in high-end ready-to-wear,” said Alexandre Elicha, president of the brand.

Robert Dassun, president of LBO France, said it supported the current management strategy. “We are convinced that The Kooples represents a unique investment opportunity in a sector that is growing strongly,” he said. 

The investment comes on the heels of last year’s sale of a 51 percent stake in Groupe SMCP, which controls French contemporary brands Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, to L Capital, the private equity arm of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Florac, an investment fund owned by the Louis-Dreyfus family.

In related news, The Kooples has postponed the launch of a capsule collection designed with British rocker Peter Doherty, initially due to go on sale in October, until spring-summer 2012. Doherty is serving a six-month prison sentence in the U.K. for possession of hard drugs.

“Working with Peter Doherty is a great adventure, he is a passionate and creative artist. But sometimes creativity is a complicated route,” the brand said in a statement.

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