Cole Haan Auction Into Second Round

Three financial players and one strategic said to be in the running.

Cole Haan’s one step closer to a new owner.

This story first appeared in the September 12, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A Goldman Sachs-run auction for the Nike Inc.-owned brand has moved into the second round with financial players Apax Partners, TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, as well as footwear firm Genesco Inc., still in the running, according to sources.

Nike bought the New York-based Cole Haan in 1988 and said in May that it wanted to divest the brand, as well as Umbro, to “sharpen its focus on driving growth in the Nike, Jordan, Converse and Hurley brands.”

One financial source described Cole Haan as “an important brand” that the would-be acquirers were “taking a very hard look at.”

For the fiscal year ended May 31, Cole Haan’s revenues rose 3 percent to $535 million. The brand has 109 U.S. stores and another 69 doors abroad.

That’s just a small slice of Nike’s $24.13 billion business, and the source speculated that the company wants to complete a deal and move on.

“It’s all downside for them, they just have to get this deal done because it would be embarrassing if it blew up,” the source said.