Fashion and beauty veteran Jill Granoff just got a new job that comes with a big checkbook and a mandate to invest up to $800 million over five years on U.S. and European brands with global potential.
Eurazeo, which has investments in Moncler, Farfetch and many others, tapped Granoff to be chief executive officer of Eurazeo Brands, a new New York-based division of the global private equity firm, which has its headquarters in Paris.
Granoff has a long résumé in fashion. She led Vince Holding Corp.’s IPO as ceo and was also ceo at Kenneth Cole Productions. She held senior roles at Estée Lauder, Victoria’s Secret and the former Liz Claiborne Inc., where she had global responsibility for Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand Jeans and Kate Spade.
She will use that operating expertise to connect with founders and court high-growth companies in beauty, apparel, accessories, home, jewelry, leisure, health, fitness and food.
“Leonard Lauder, Les Wexner, Kenneth Cole, the Juicy girls, the Lucky boys, I have really spent my career working with founders,” Granoff told WWD.
Eurazeo allocated $600 million to $800 million to the division with an eye toward writing equity checks anywhere from $10 million to $600 million, with larger deals co-investments with Eurazeo Capital.
While the U.S. retail scene is in the midst of structural upheaval, Granoff said there are plenty of attractive companies and sectors that are thriving.
“Adversity creates opportunity, especially for those with creative minds,” Granoff said. “There are definitely opportunities to build brands in the marketplace today. We’ll start by leveraging my background in the beauty and fashion industries.
She noted that the beauty business has been doing quite well, fueled by the social media-heavy cosmetics business and the appeal of skin-care products to the Silver Generation.
“Fashion, apparel specifically, is definitely more challenged, but again, there are opportunities there for digital disrupters [such as Farfetch],” she said. “There are opportunities in fashion, but we need to be selective.”
In general, Granoff said she’s looking for “a compelling consumer concept that is really differentiated in the marketplace.”
Virginie Morgon, deputy ceo of Eurazeo, said Granoff will also have a differentiated proposition in a competitive deal market.
“We also bring permanent capital, which is absolutely paramount,” Morgon said. “We are investing from our balance sheet, so Jill doesn’t have to be raising money from today onward.”
Eurazeo has six billion euros, or $6.7 billion, under management and notable stakes in companies across a range of industries, including hospitality company AccorHotels, Spanish brand Desigual, car rental firm Europcar, employer-sponsored nursery provider Les Petits Chaperons Rouges, and pharmaceutical ingredients producer Novacap.
Instead of searching for capital, Granoff can focus on scouting for and negotiating deals.
Morgon said the investment house is flexible and willing to take minority or majority stakes given the investment. She said the deal flow has been strong.
“I can see there’s a lot of concern in the U.S. for where the retail model is going and how fast the department stores have to completely transform themselves to be able to survive,” Morgon said, noting other retail concepts have also overextended. “That’s true, but that’s very U.S. It’s only a very tiny part of what we want to do with Jill.”
She noted there are a number of luxury brands on the market in Europe. While Jimmy Choo’s sale process is public, there are others that have kept a tight lid on their explorations.
“There are many other situations which are not public and which are super interesting, in shoes, in luxury fashion, in hard jewelry, in cosmetics,” she said.
Morgon said she’s looking for growth and not obsessed about valuation.
“The valuation has no meaning,” she said. While a valuation of 20-times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is considered high, she noted “that’s not the point, the point is how strong are we on the growth prospects of the company.”
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