LONDON — The Munich-based fashion brand Escada, a powerhouse of the Eighties and Nineties, has been sold to the private equity firm Regent, confirming reports in WWD earlier this week.
The Mittal family, which purchased Escada in 2009 after a bidding war, confirmed the news alongside Regent’s chairman Michael Reinstein. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Megha Mittal, Escada’s chairman, said it was a privilege to guide and evolve the brand over the past 10 years.
“I would like to thank all the company’s employees for the passion and dedication they have shown in reimagining Escada for today’s customer. I would also like to thank Iris [Epple-Righi, the chief executive officer] for her leadership. In Regent, we have found the right owner to continue the next chapter of the company.”
Under the Mittal family’s ownership, Escada sought to modernize its fashion direction, invested in upgrading its retail portfolio and expanded its social media and digital activities.
Last year the company celebrated its 40th anniversary with a show at the Armory during New York Fashion Week. This year it named Rita Ora as the face of the brand.
Mittal began looking for a buyer for Escada earlier this year, hiring the U.S. investment bank Lazard to help. Escada’s revenues are slightly more than 100 million euros, and the company is profitable.
Epple-Righi said Mittal “has been thoroughly committed to the brand’s evolution. I am proud of the milestones we have achieved, and we now look forward to collaborating with Regent and gaining from their vast operational knowledge in running brands and businesses.”
The wife of Aditya Mittal, president and chief financial officer of the steel manufacturing corporation ArcelorMittal and chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal Europe, Megha Mittal is a Wharton Business School graduate, former Goldman Sachs investment researcher and architectural design postgraduate.
Mittal won out in the final round of bidding for the house against an international consortium supporting Sven Ley, son of Escada founders Wolfgang and Margaretha Ley; his wife, Zoe, and an unconfirmed third party, widely believed to be the Lebanon-based financial holding firm M1 Group.
Mittal was also a founding member of the U.K. Fashion Trust, a philanthropic initiative funded by patrons including entrepreneurs, investors and business people. For years she hosted Trust-related events at her London home in support of the winning designers.
Reinstein described Escada as one of the leading international luxury brands since it was first launched by Margaretha Ley in 1978.
“We are honored to build on the hard work of Megha Mittal and the very talented Escada management team to help take the business to new heights.”
The brand produces the Escada and Escada Sport collections, which span daywear, workwear, eveningwear and accessories.
Escada recruited designer Niall Sloan of Hunter to help refresh the company’s images and marked the shift in direction — and the brand’s 40th anniversary — with the New York Fashion Week show.
One of the aims was to appeal to a younger demographic, hence the decision to hire Ora and appeal to mothers as well as their daughters. But the brand had many challenges to overcome, including a flood of small, direct-to-consumer, digitally savvy and fashion-forward labels in the contemporary market and the continued dominance — and spending power — of the big luxury brands, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, especially in accessories.
As part of its new strategy, the company has been putting a focus on accessories, and wholesale, which had traditionally been the power base of the business, with large spaces at Harrods and U.S. department stores such as Neiman Marcus.
Based in Beverly Hills, Calif., Regent is a global private equity firm with a portfolio that includes companies in retail, media and technology.
Investments include Mavic, DiamondBack, Redline, La Senza, Brands4Friends, Plainville Farms, Sassoon, Sunset Magazine, Lillian Vernon, HistoryNet and Sightline, a media portfolio comprised of 18 newspapers and magazines.