LONDON — Agent Provocateur is planning an international retail rollout concentrated in the U.S. and Asia with a fresh cash injection from new investors 3i.
On Thursday, 3i said it had acquired a majority stake in the high-end lingerie company for an estimated 60 million pounds, or $123 million at current exchange.
"The company has a fantastic reputation and is already well established in Europe...[and] we believe there is enormous potential for the business to grow," said Jennifer Dunstan, of 3i partner buyouts.
Joseph Corre and Serena Rees, who founded the racy lingerie brand 13 years ago, will continue to hold minority stakes in the company. Corre, who is Vivienne Westwood's son, will stay on as creative director of Agent Provocateur. A spokeswoman for the company said Rees will leave "to pursue new opportunities." The two founded the company when they were married, but have since split.
The investment fund has appointed Stuart Rose, chairman of The Hamleys Group and a former deputy chairman of The Body Shop, as chairman of the brand. (He is not related to Stuart Rose, chief executive of Marks & Spencer plc). Garry Hogarth, a former consultant at the firm, has been named ceo.
"For the past 14 years, we've grown very organically," Corre told WWD. "We then got to the size and scale where we needed to springboard. Because of 3i's size, they're able to have more flexibility with their investments, and they have a strong [international] network, that can help us in a practical way."
Corre added that territories such as Japan were high on the company's expansion agenda. "The whole psyche has changed there in the past 14 years — lingerie used to be sold there by people doing private home sales," he said.
Since Agent Provocateur opened its first boudoir-inspired store in London's Soho in 1994, filled with silk and lace lingerie, garter belts and silk stockings, it's become a byword for risqué glamour. Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Catherine Bailey have all appeared in its advertising campaigns. The company currently has 35 stand-alone stores and shop-in-shop units in the U.K., the U.S., Asia, Europe and the Middle East. According to industry sources, the brand's sales in its latest fiscal year to 2007 were about 25 million pounds, or $51 million."It's quite a small brand that's been punching above its weight," said George Wallace, ceo of retail analysts MHE Retail. "In terms of the scale of the company, it's not that big, but the image and awareness of the brand are massive. It's a very valuable brand that's a long way from realizing its potential."
Wallace added that 3i's "financial resources and potential strategic input" made the two companies a good match.
Meanwhile, Maureen Hinton, lead analyst at Verdict Research, said that Rees' departure wouldn't adversely affect the brand. "I don't think it's an issue," said Hinton. "Apart from those in the know, the brand isn't really associated with a designer."
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews