Vlisco Hires Bank to Explore Options

The Dutch maker of bold and colorful textiles could be the next elite fashion supplier to be snapped up by a luxury group — or possibly even go public.

PARIS — Vlisco Group, a Dutch maker of bold and colorful textiles marketed mainly in West Africa, could be the next elite fashion supplier to be snapped up by a luxury group — or possibly even go public.

This story first appeared in the April 18, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

WWD has learned that London-based private equity firm Actis, which has owned Vlisco since 2010, has given a mandate to Barclays to advise it on ways to realize its investment in the 168-year-old firm, based in Helmond in southern Holland.

Murray Grant, a partner at Actis responsible for the Vlisco investment, confirmed it has tapped Barclays to explore its options.

He noted that “we are not actively selling the company,” while acknowledging the fund has received expressions of interest. “We have to sell everything at some stage,” he noted.

Actis invests in varied firms in Africa.

It is understood some European funds have already been approached about the Vlisco opportunity.

Revenues at the company, which totaled 169 million euros in 2009, are believed to be approaching 300 million euros, or $414.6 million at current exchange rates.

Actis had set a goal to double the size of the business by 2015-16, a feat Vlisco should accomplish this year. Management was tasked with transforming the company into a brand-oriented fashion player, rather than just a textile designer and manufacturer. To wit: It has begun exploiting potential outside its core markets, enlarging its network of retail stores and expanding its product offer, including launching accessories and ready-made garments.

According to industry sources, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Hermès International, among European luxury players keen on securing rare and specialized suppliers, have kept an eye on Vlisco, with Actis expected to exit within the usual five- to seven-year investment horizon for a private equity player.

The fast-growing company produces about 70 million yards of fabric a year. It employs 2,700 employees and a sprawling production complex that grew from the same spot where the founder started marketing what is often called Real Dutch Wax prints.

Etched copper rollers apply the wax that gives fabrics their intricate designs: All are printed on both sides and pass through 36 production steps.