ENK International is growing its empire with the purchase of WSA Global Holdings LLC, adding the footwear trade show to ENK’s fashion offerings.
ENK bought its latest acquisition for an undisclosed sum from WSA’s management, including Farber and Stone, and other private investors, who launched WSA Global Holdings in October. The purchase was made after the show’s former board, which had led WSA as a nonprofit organization, sold the operations and donated $38 million to charity groups.
Skip Farber, WSA chief executive officer, and Diane Stone, WSA chief operating officer, will continue to lead the 59-year-old biannual Las Vegas footwear trade show, which features more than 36,000 buyers and almost 1,600 exhibitors.
"This is a very strategic move for us," said ENK chairman and founder Elyse Kroll. "We see tremendous synergies. They are more of a marketing company than an exhibition, and they provide a comprehensive list of services for companies in the accessory market. What we provide is the trade show, and we will learn what more we can provide to exhibitors….We will each use each other’s best business practices."
Led by Kroll and president Luis Padilla, ENK’s trade show roster includes Fashion Coterie; Intermezzo; Sole Commerce; Accessorie Circuit; the Collective; Blue; Clear; Brighte Companies, and Children’s Club.
Asked if ENK had other shows in its sights, Kroll said she was not eyeing a particular event, but "I am always open to looking at what could make ENK a stronger company."
Farber said in a statement, "Bringing these two leading companies together and leveraging market knowledge, strategy and customer relationships provides us with the opportunity to create one of the most powerful fashion and footwear trade show and marketing services companies in the world."
Footwear News, a sister publication of WWD, first reported speculation of a deal after the WSA’s August show.
In May 2006, Forstmann Little & Co. acquired a majority stake of ENK.
"Both ENK and WSA have very strong market positions, excellent management teams and significant potential for growth," Theodore J. Forstmann, Forstmann Little & Co. senior founding partner, said in a statement. "We consider the combination of these two great companies to be the perfect storm of ‘best in class’ leadership and marketing in the fashion trade show industry. We are very excited about the growth opportunities for this combination."