PARIS — Qatar is on the verge of gaining another prestigious fashion foothold in Europe.
Having already snapped up London department store Harrods in 2010, the cash-rich Gulf state could soon boast French department store chain Printemps in its portfolio.
Deutsche Bank’s real estate asset management division, RREEF, and Borletti Group —the joint owners of Printemps — said Wednesday that RREEF has entered into exclusive negotiations with Borletti Group and unidentified Qatari investors to sell its stake.
Speculation is likely to focus on the Qatar Investment Authority and its Qatar Holding LLC arm, which have invested in a slew of luxury and retail stocks in the past few years.
The Arab state has a 1.03 percent stake in LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and an 8.7 percent share in Tiffany & Co. It has also bought real estate including a historic building on Place Vendôme, a flagship retail complex on the Champs-Elysées and hotels including the Martinez in Cannes, France.
Meanwhile, Qatar Luxury Group has signed a lease on a boutique on Avenue Montaigne for the upcoming launch of Qela, its first homegrown luxury brand. And Mayhoola for Investments, an investment vehicle backed by a private group from the Middle Eastern monarchy, has snapped up Italy’s Valentino Fashion Group SpA.
Speculation around a change in ownership of Printemps has been building in the last few months, with RREEF said to be looking for a buyer for its 70 percent stake, but Borletti Group — run by former La Rinascente chairman Maurizio Borletti — is keen on holding on to its 30 percent participation.
The duo bought the Printemps chain for $1.33 billion from French conglomerate PPR in 2006 and has since invested millions in shifting the store upmarket.
Under the terms of the purchase deal, RREEF had planned to sell its stake by 2014 at the latest, with Borletti Group having a priority claim to the stake, according to sources familiar with the transaction.
Any sale will be subject to approval by the works council of Printemps and competition authorities.
Potential buyers for RREEF’s stake were said to include rival department store chain Galeries Lafayette, whose Paris flagship is a stone’s throw away on Boulevard Haussmann, making the area a top draw for tourists visiting the French capital.
French business magazine Challenges reported in December that Galeries Lafayette was ready to pay 1.6 billion euros, or $2.14 billion at current exchange, to acquire the retailer. Officials at the family-owned company had no comment on the rumors.
Printemps has 15 stores in France in addition to its Paris flagship and employs around 4,000 people. It plans to open three new stores by 2015, marking the first additions to its retail network in more than 30 years.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast