MILAN — Marquee Brands LLC is taking control of Bruno Magli.
Marquee Brands is a brand acquisition, licensing and development company sponsored by Neuberger Berman Private Equity, a business of employee-controlled investment manager Neuberger Berman. As per the agreement, which industry sources peg at 28.5 million euros, or $33.6 million at current exchange, Marquee Brands will acquire the Italian label and related intellectual-property assets from Bruno Magli SpA.
Founded in Bologna in 1936, Bruno Magli’s last owner was Swiss independent asset-management firm Da Vinci Invest AG, but last month the Court of Bologna approved a composition with creditors for the Italian footwear brand, and Neuberger Berman was said to be in the running, together with The Carlyle Group. Da Vinci Invest AG had bought Bruno Magli last January from Fortelus Capital Management LLP, which had owned it since 2007.
“Marquee Brands was created to acquire and grow high-quality brands through product and geographic expansion,” said Michael DeVirgilio, president of the firm. “Bruno Magli is one of the most revered Italian legacy brands. We have already begun to secure partnerships in new categories with true best-in-class partners for growth at better retailers across the globe.”
Cory M. Baker, chief operating officer of Marquee Brands, told WWD that Bruno Magli “is a rare gem and epitomizes what we seek,” underscoring the label’s “heritage and authenticity.” He noted the “much greater opportunities” for the brand going forward, through the development of a lifestyle product offer and expansive geographic distribution. Product extension is also seen as a relevant growth channel.
Baker explained that Marquee Brands had been drawn by Bruno Magli’s “unique, classic fashion,” and noted that the label had maintained its positioning, with distribution at top stores in the U.S., including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, for example, and in Japan. He also cited a network of existing freestanding boutiques in Asia, Japan, Korea and Italy. Investments will be aimed at a “strong marketing and media push and design support” with the goal to also “engage new consumers.” Retailers and customers are “hungry for authentic and quality products and classic Italian craftsmanship” positioned in the affordable-luxury range.
While the label’s corporate office will be based at the New York headquarters of Marquee Brands, Bruno Magli’s footwear and leather products will continue to be designed in Bologna and made in Italy.
Bruno Magli marks the first acquisition for Marquee Brands, which was established in September. Zachary Sigel, principal of Neuberger Berman and director of Marquee Brands, who is responsible for brand acquisitions for the company, said the firm is seeking to acquire labels similar to Bruno Magli that can be grown globally.
The transaction is expected to close early this year.