Ann Inc. has a new admirer — who promptly pushed the retailer into the spotlight.
Golden Gate Capital spent $156.2 million this year to buy 4.4 million Ann shares, or 9.5 percent of the company, according to a 13D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday. Although Golden Gate is not typically viewed as an activist investor, that type of filing is usually used when a big player plans to directly influence a company.
Investors are clearly looking for something to come from the association and word of the investment pushed shares of Ann up 11.5 percent to $41.50 in after-hours trading.
Golden Gate, for its part, has said it comes in peace and acknowledged the impact its stake might have in the market.
“We look forward to working collaboratively and constructively with you as a long-term public investor to help create value for the company and its shareholders,” Josh Olshansky, Neale Attenborough and Josh Cohen of the private equity firm’s retail group wrote in a letter to Ann Inc.’s management.
“We intend to be a long-term holder with a multiyear investment horizon,” the trio wrote. “We do not invest with the intention to put companies ‘in play’ or to change management or directors.”
That doesn’t mean some won’t take the investment as a sign of big things to come.
“We recognize the potential impact that a 13D filing can have on a company and its shareholder base, and we therefore wanted to be very clear and transparent about our intentions regarding this exciting investment in Ann,” the letter said.
Golden Gate lauded the company and its management, led by chief executive officer Kay Krill, with bullet points singling out comparable-store sales gains (averaging 6 percent over the last 16 quarters), “effective investment in the store base” and “successful assortment revitalization” as well as the firm’s cost cutting efforts and its growth strategy.
However, Golden Gate also described the company’s stock as “significantly undervalued, especially in light of today’s robust equity environment.”
Ann replied in a statement noting, “The company’s board of directors and management team remain committed to building value for our shareholders through the ongoing successful execution of our strategy and growth initiatives, as well as the continued utilization of our strong balance sheet. We always welcome new investors and appreciate all of our shareholders’ interest in the company.”
Neither Golden Gate nor Ann executives could be reached for comment late Thursday.
Golden Gate has over $12 billion under management and has made investments in a number of fashion brands, including Zale, Pacific Sunwear, J. Jill and Eddie Bauer. The firm was due to sell Eddie Bauer to Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. for $825 million but that deal was scuttled when The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. succeeded in acquiring Jos. A. Bank for $1.8 billion. Golden Gate will get a $42 million breakup fee, however.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast