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MILAN — Moncler’s second attempt at an initial public offering is taking shape.
A well-placed industry source said the Italian brand has chosen a pool of banks including Bank of America Corp., Mediobanca, Banca Imi, J.P. Morgan and UBS to manage the IPO. “This is what [chairman and chief executive officer] Remo Ruffini has always wanted to do. They’ve been ready for four years,” said the source.
Another source confirmed that Moncler “is just waiting for the right window.”
Moncler shelved its IPO in summer 2011, but Ruffini has repeatedly said a listing remains the company’s goal — an objective confirmed in March as parent company Eurazeo identified this as the most likely exit method either at the end of this year or in early 2014.
Officials at Moncler and Eurazeo were not available for comment at press time.
Ruffini sold a 48 percent stake in the company to The Carlyle Group in 2008. In June 2011, Carlyle and Ruffini sold 45 percent of the company to Paris-based investment firm Eurazeo, pulling the plug on plans to list the brand on the Milan Stock Exchange that summer. Ruffini said last month “a listing remains [the company’s] goal.”
The ceo retained a 32 percent stake in the company, while Carlyle owns 17.8 percent.
Moncler would be the first luxury group to go public after the successful listings of Brunello Cucinelli SpA in April last year and Prada SpA and Salvatore Ferragamo SpA the year before. Despite Italy’s market volatility, Moleskine launched an IPO in April, although its shares have hit a few bumps since then, compared with Cucinelli’s and Ferragamo’s upward trajectories. Lapo Elkann’s Italia Independent Group SpA is ready to make its debut on the AIM Italia Alternative Capital Market, a segment of the Italian Stock Exchange, by the end of the month, according to sources.
“The road show in Milan, Paris, London, Geneva and Zurich went much better than expected and the company may list as early as the end of the week,” said a source on Sunday, adding that the firm plans to place around 25 percent of its shares on the market. Pricing of shares may be take place on Wednesday, he said.
Moncler was founded in 1952 in Grenoble, France. Ruffini took over in 2003 and began revamping the brand, evolving it from a collection of utilitarian, down-filled apparel with mostly local distribution into a fashionable international label. Ruffini went on to add a luxury component with the launches of the Gamme Rouge and Gamme Bleu collections, designed by Giambattista Valli and Thom Browne, respectively.
According to Eurazeo’s 2012 annual report, the investment firm owns 31.2 percent of the Moncler Group. In addition to the Moncler brand, the group comprises the Sportswear division, which includes Henry Cotton’s, Marina Yachting, Coast Weber & Ahaus and the 18CRR81 Cerruti license. Sources say only the Moncler brand is likely to list, and that the group will spin off the Sportswear division. Last year, the group reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 170 million euros, or $217.6 million at average exchange, on sales of 624 million euros, or $799 million, up 22 percent compared with the previous year. The Moncler brand alone posted sales of 489 million euros, or $626 million, up 35 percent from 2011, accounting for 78 percent of group sales. The sportswear division, defined as “a nonstrategic group business,” showed a 10 percent decline.
At the end of 2012, the Moncler brand counted 83 boutiques and 1,900 wholesale accounts globally. The company invested in the expansion of its retail network and the reduction in the number of multibrand sales outlets. Direct retail gained 82 percent to 251 million euros, or $321.3 million, and wholesale grew 6 percent to 238 million euros, or $304.6 million, respectively accounting for 51 and 49 percent of total sales, compared with 38 and 62 percent in 2011.
Italy accounted for 26 percent of Moncler sales; the rest of Europe for 32 percent and America for 10 percent. Boutiques and Miami and Los Angeles opened last year.
Last year, Moncler expanded in Asia by taking direct control of its activity in Hong Kong and China. The brand bought two stores in Hong Kong, took over eight stores in China and opened four stores in the year. The group’s 14 stores in Asia generated 14 percent of sales versus 8 percent in 2011. Sales in Asia and Japan represented 32 percent of total activity.
“To transform a niche brand into a global luxury brand, we work on all the change vectors: the expanded offering with the launch of accessories and by-products, distribution channels with the development of retail, a wider product range and, lastly, international expansion,” said Virginie Morgon, chief investment officer of Eurazeo, in the annual report.
Product diversification continued in knitwear, footwear and handbags based on cobranding operations.