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MILAN — Pacific Global Management Group (PGM) has acquired modeling agency Women Management’s Paris and New York branches from Arca Fashion SpA. PGM, which bought a controlling stake in Elite World in 2011, also owns the Italian luxury lingerie brand La Perla and the China-based entertainment label Gold Typhoon.
The move is part of a strategy to strengthen Elite World’s presence in North America and expand its international scope, keeping the Elite and Women brands separate but uniting them in structure. Terms of the deal, which excluded Women’s Milan branch, were not disclosed.
This story first appeared in the December 17, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Earlier this year, Elite World opened The Society Management, an exclusive boutique agency in New York with names such as Adriana Lima, Catherine McNeil and Grace Jones on the roster. The addition of Women’s New York branch significantly bolsters Elite’s coverage of the U.S. market.
PGM and Elite World chief executive officer Stefania Valenti said PGM had been eyeing Women for awhile, because its market positioning and industry reputation were in line with Elite’s. In addition, Women is financially healthy: its New York branch will close out 2013 with profits up 7 percent on-year, while the French office’s numbers are up 5 to 6 percent, Valenti said.
The acquisition of Women “signals a historical shift, because these are two very strong agencies, Elite especially in Europe and Women especially in the U.S., and together they become an absolute market leader,” Valenti said, adding: “The idea at this point is to create very strong synergies between them and take on new markets” such as China, where Elite has been actively ramping up its presence, even hosting its 2013 Elite Model Look world finale in Shenzhen. Chinese models of the moment Fei Fei Sun, Ming Xi and Liu Wen are all signed with Elite.
Over the past year and a half, Elite World has also opened directly operated agencies in cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, and established a long-term partnership with the Shenzhen Longhua New District Dalang Fashion Valley, home to many Chinese fashion brands with an interest in the global market; several new Elite agencies will open their doors in China in 2014. Valenti said meeting the needs of Asian enterprises requires an understanding of the local culture, which is why Elite World has invested in expert Chinese staff members who are also familiar with a more Western business approach.
Further expansion is not limited to the women’s fashion segment, as Elite World is intensifying its male model scouting internationally. Currently, the company’s men’s segment is present in China, Italy, the UK and Spain, but a new men’s agency is slated to open in France in 2014, to be followed by another in the Netherlands down the line.
Elite World has also invested in TV and digital promotions, broadcasting its Elite Model Look world final in 50 countries this year and offering special Chinese and international versions. A Web series, Elite New Face, debuted in the U.S. on Hulu, offering additional behind-the-scenes footage of young models learning the ropes.