The Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot fashion chains are leaning toward Asia.
Three sources said the private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., which owns 70 percent of the retailers’ corporate parent, SMCP, is moving closer to selling its stake to Chinese textile concern Shandong Ruyi.
KKR, which signaled in October that it began evaluating “strategic options” for the company, had been looking to raise up to $190 million by listing at least a part of SMCP on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, potentially in June. Private equity owners, however, often use the possibility of an initial public offering as a way flush out buyers and add urgency to a sale process. KKR bought the business in 2013.
It’s a big deal — 1.3 billion euros, or $1.45 billion, including debt, according to some reports — and would give new standing to Shandong Ruyi, which is relatively unknown, at least to several U.S.-based fashion dealmakers. It also would be the latest in a wave of acquisitions by high-paying Chinese firms. The Chinese group Anbang, for example, is in a multi-billion dollar bidding war with Marriott Hotels with Starwood.
Chinese fashion companies have been strong on production capacity, but generally haven’t committed to buying global brands. Investment bankers have said that deep-pocketed Asian buyers have been looking to deepen their fashion investments for years.
SMCP has said its revenues last year increased 33 percent to 675 million euros, or $748 million at average exchange rates, while earnings before interest, taxes, deprecation and amortization advanced 44 percent to 107 million euros, or $118 million.
The 1,118-door business operated in 33 countries at the end of 2015 and targeted between 80 and 100 new stores this year.
SMCP president and chief executive officer Daniel Lalonde said earlier this month that the priority markets for expansion are the U.S., Greater China, the U.K., Spain and Italy. “There is a lot of room to grow in those markets in a very disciplined and targeted way in big cities,” Lalonde said. “Frankly, we are just at the beginning of the international adventure.”
The ceo singled out the Chinese market, saying that between 2011 and 2020 the number of households entering the middle class there will grow to 85 million from 33 million. “They represent new customers for us,” he said.
That’s familiar territory, though, for Shandong, which makes and sells woolen textile goods in China and internationally. The Jining-based company markets its products under the Ruyi brand name.