That’s the message Bud Konheim, chief executive officer of Nicole Miller, has for the bankers, private equity firms, strategic players and other assorted dealmakers interested in buying his company. Instead, Konheim has engaged Mary Ann Domuracki, managing director at investment bank Financo, and is directing would-be investors toward her.
“We have been bombarded here with guys trying to buy the business,” Konheim said. “It’s escalated because it’s obviously very hot. I’m not staffed up to take those calls during the day. [I told Domuracki], ‘Take all these guys off my back.’ Nothing’s come up. I’m just tired of talking to everybody.”
In addition to exhausted, Konheim seemed bemused, semi-irritated and, yes, interested in the attention the brand is getting.
“What I get is, ‘This guy is worth billions. He’s got so-and-so capital. They just closed a bunch of deals. They are billion, billion, billion,’” Konheim said. “OK, so I say, ‘Does that get my attention?’ Not really.
“I’m always interested in an offer I can’t refuse,” he said. “I’m all ears, but so far, I haven’t heard anything. And there’s no offer and there’s no prospectus. We haven’t sent anything out.” RELATED STORY: Nicole Miller RTW Spring 2014 >>
Even so, Konheim, a canny Seventh Avenue player who launched the company with designer Nicole Miller in 1982, knows what he’s doing by hiring an investment adviser.
“When I said [to Financo], ‘Please handle all this stuff,’ I know I was opening a door for them to get active instead of passive,” he said. “I know what the consequences are of talking to someone like Financo, they want to do something.”
Financo enters the scene at a time when fashion brands are beginning to fetch better prices as investors look to re-create the enormous valuation garnered by Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. following its public offering.
Konheim and Miller own 70 percent of the company and its employees own the other 30 percent through a stock ownership plan set up in 2007. That makes any effort to buy the firm somewhat more complicated.
But dealmaking is a world where most problems can be overcome with money. And Nicole Miller is seen as an attractive property by some investors. The brand has proven its staying power over decades, but could also be developed in certain areas, such as retail.
The company had 22 stores at one point, but is now funneling more of its energy into its e-commerce site. “We realized in the middle of the night that we do not know how to run specialty stores, so we run three, which are profitable, but we got rid of all the rest,” Konheim said.
The brand — which also has myriad wholesale accounts, including a 600-door engagement with J.C. Penney Co. Inc. — has $450 million to $500 million in retail sales, Konheim said.
“We’re very profitable [and were] kind of all the way through the recession,” he said. “It’s mainly because of the size. We’re not mega anything. We’re not giant.”
Despite all the interest in the business, Konheim said he remains skeptical.
“My real belief is that nobody wants to run this business,” he said. “You’ve got to be kidding. Who wants to buy piece goods and deal with designers? Nobody wants to do that [even though] they say they want to.”
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
After showing in front of the Eiffel Tower for his last two women’s ready-to-wear collection, it looks like @anthonyvaccarello may be heading to the Big Apple. Sources say the designer will stage his next @ysl show in NYC on June 6. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion