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NEW YORK — Vince is now a $1 billion brand.
That is the valuation the stock market gave the contemporary brand Friday as it became the first U.S. apparel firm to go public since Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. in December 2011. Vince’s initial public offering raised $200 million.
The brand late Thursday night priced 10 million shares at $20 each, higher than the original expected range of $17 to $19 a share. On Friday morning the shares surged 47 percent to $29.50 at the open of trading. The shares climbed as high as $30.48 before settling back to the $28 trading range for the day. Vince shares closed at $28.66.
Private equity firm Sun Capital Partners picked up its ownership of Vince when it acquired Kellwood Co. in 2008, which already had the brand under its umbrella. Following the IPO, Sun still retains a 68.1 percent stake, or 24.7 million shares, in Vince.
Although the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange trading floor was at 9:30 a.m., it took nearly an hour before Vince shares actually traded on the Big Board as brokers were trying to find the proper opening point. During that waiting period, the expected range kept rising, first to $24 to $26, and then to between $28 and $30. When the range finally narrowed to between $29 and $30, excitement began to rise among the Vince management team as NYSE officials said the shares were getting close to their debut. That drew a thumbs-up from Vince chief executive officer Jill Granoff.
Granoff said afterward that the shares priced at $20 because of significant interest in the stock from investors during the just-completed, two-week road show. As for her thoughts during that nearly one-hour wait, Granoff said, “Lisa kept saying, ‘It’s going to go up.’ I’ve run a public company, but I’ve never taken one public. It was exciting to see the price going up.”
Lisa Klinger became Vince’s chief financial officer in December 2012, and earned high marks for her handling of The Fresh Market Inc.’s 2010 stock market listing, where she was cfo. She and Karin Gregersen, president and chief creative officer, were also on the trading floor Friday.
The public listing marked the end of a yearlong process for Vince. There was one hiccup when the federal government shut down on Oct. 1. “I didn’t know if the Securities and Exchange Commission would be able to approve our S-1 filings. That was a nail biter,” Granoff said.
Now the task is to build out Vince’s business. According to Granoff, the vision to optimize growth for Vince across each channel of distribution includes “evolving the brand from a U.S. wholesale business to a global, dual-gender lifestyle brand.”
The apparel mix is still dominated by women’s at 85 percent and men’s at just 15 percent. Categories outside of apparel include footwear. Gregersen noted that accessories, such as handbags and small leather goods, are set to launch in 2015. And there’s the store expansion ahead, with a goal of 100 freestanding stores in the U.S., up from the current store count of 27, according to Klinger. The company is planning seven to eight store openings a year over the next 10 years.
Klinger said the company will file its first quarterly filing as a public firm with the SEC in mid-December, but won’t hold a conference call until March, when it reports fourth-quarter and year-end results.