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Jil Sander Undergoes Another Major Change: New Ownership

Jil Sander has once again changed hands.

Milan –Despite the adverse economic climate, it was announced today that Change Capital Partners has found an agreement to sell Jil Sander to Onward Holdings Co., the Tokyo-listed apparel group, and its European subsidiary, Gibo’ Co. Spa, for 167 million euros or $244.1 million at current exchange rates.
According to a statement, the transaction is expected to close shortly. Speculation on a possible spin off had started to mount last month.

“We are greatly honored that Jil Sander, a luxury brand with exquisite design and spirit of innovation, is joining our group,” said Takeshi Hirouchi, chairman and ceo of Onward. “The acquisition certainly enhances our stable of well known brands. We believe that there are considerable opportunities and synergies to drive the growth of Jil Sander, Gibo’ and the entire Onward Group.”

Jil Sander also just finalized its squeeze out, initially set in motion in the spring of 2006 and since July 21, it is fully delisted. Until then, there was a remaining two percent stake floating on the Frankfurt Bourse.  

Change Capital Partners, the London based private equity fund backed by the Halley family, cashed out an unrevealed amount to buy Jil Sander from Prada Spa in February 2006.

According to the release, Change Capitals have successfully turned Jil Sander around, creating a solid platform for future growth. Operating profits went back in the black from a 2005 loss of 12.9 million euros or $18.9 million at current exchange rates to last year’s 6.1 million euros or $8.9 million.

Unlike Prada, which seeked the involvement of Jil Sander herself twice, the design talent of Raf Simons, who Prada chief Patrizio Bertelli appointed creative director in May 2005, energized Change Capital.

The understanding is that Onward intends to keep Simons, whose design aesthetics of calm elegance based on no fuss volumes, intricate cuts and superb quality have guaranteed the continuation of the brand’s DNA first established by Sander herself.

Since his debut collection in February 2006 – his first ever effort with women’s wear – the designer’s acclaim has grown by the season. With it, so has the brand’s need to branch out into accessories and eyewear as well as at retail.

For more see Tuesday’s WWD.