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Jones Group Buys Brian Atwood Designs

Firm plans to help further build the brand and expand it into new categories, which are likely to range from jewelry to apparel.

NEW YORK — The Jones Group Inc. is bolstering its brand portfolio with another fashionable name.

Jones has acquired the majority of the Brian Atwood brand, extending its relationship with the footwear designer, whose contemporary B Brian Atwood line, launched in 2011, is in a licensed partnership with Jones.

Jones did not disclose the size of the majority stake or the sum it paid to acquire the 11-year-old business.

Jones and Atwood are forming a joint venture, which owns the intellectual property of the brand and its existing licenses. Atwood will retain a minority stake in the company that bears his name.

Jones plans to help further build the Brian Atwood brand and expand it into new categories, which are likely to range from jewelry to apparel and help transform the designer into a global lifestyle label.

Milan-based Atwood will continue as creative director and designer of the brand, and will oversee all aspects of design and image. He lauded Jones for its business acumen and brand expertise. “Jones is an industry leader with such an expertise in building and operating global brands,” Atwood said, adding that he is looking forward to “be able to fully realize my brand’s potential and what it looks like, smells like, and anything about it. For any designer, that’s the dream.”

The designer already has a celebrity following that includes Lady Gaga and Victoria Beckham and worldwide distribution at upscale specialty stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Intermix and Jeffrey.

In September, Atwood will open his first eponymous freestanding boutique at 655 Madison Avenue, next to Michael Kors and across from Barneys New York.

“Our successful launch of B Brian Atwood has been a gradual building of a long-term partnership, and the collection demonstrated to us that there is strong demand for his vision, which our team can execute brilliantly against his ideas,” said Richard Dickson, Jones’ president and chief executive officer of branded business. “We believe he has global demand, and the two companies combined could be that much more powerful.”

As part of the acquisition, Atwood’s current and future collections, including his luxury shoe label, will be incorporated into the Jones portfolio.

“We have studied the Brian Atwood designer piece of the business,” noted Dickson. “It’s a well-run boutique brand that is probably, in terms of volume, small, but it is important and has the capability of growing.”

The move gives the Jones portfolio another lift as the company seeks to reinvent itself with a brand-centric, rather than a category-centric, approach.

Under the leadership of Dickson and Jones chief executive officer Wes Card, the company purchased brands including Kurt Geiger, Stuart Weitzman, Rachel Roy and Robert Rodriguez.

“This marks another milestone in our ongoing mission of truly developing the Jones Group into a powerful portfolio of fashion brands, ultimately led by exceptional talent,” Dickson said. “Brian is another one of those bright stars that we believe will be an asset to the company in many ways.

“We will hopefully grow this business over many years to be an important part of our portfolio,” he added.

Atwood said he would like to build his handbag assortment and expand into apparel and other categories. “Anything that fits and makes sense for the brand,” he said. “There are really no limits.”