LONDON — European private equity firm Cinven said Monday it has agreed to acquire Kurt Geiger, the British footwear company and retailer. Cinven will purchase Geiger from Sycamore Partners for 245 million pounds, or $372 million at current exchange, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Chief executive officer Neil Clifford; chief financial officer Dale Christilaw and creative director Rebecca Farrar-Hockley are to continue in their roles under Cinven ownership, Cinven said. The transaction is subject to customary approvals.
Geiger’s portfolio includes Kurt Geiger London, KG, Miss KG and Carvela. It operates more than 80 stores globally, and 240 concessions within stores including Harrods, Selfridges, House of Fraser and Debenhams. It also operates third-party concessions, owned and international franchised stores and e-commerce sites.
The company had been put up for sale earlier this year and, as reported in September, sources had said one of the stumbling blocks was the high valuation. The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is about 25 million pounds, or $38 million, with a media report saying there was a takeover bid in the works valuing the brand at 250 million pounds, or $379 million. That put the multiple at 10 x EBITDA, with market buyers generally more inclined toward 7x.
The acquisition by the European private equity firm represents Cinven’s first investment in fashion.
Sycamore Partners acquired Kurt Geiger when it bought The Jones Group. Following the closing of its acquisition of Jones, the Stuart Weitzman and Kurt Geiger assets were structured so that the two properties could be sold. The U.S. private equity firm already sold Stuart Weitzman earlier this year to Coach Inc.
Cinven said that in the year ended Dec. 31, Geiger generated sales of 260 million pounds, or $429 million. The private equity firm said it sees further expansion opportunities, both through in-market consolidation, digitization strategy and international growth, including further rollout in Asia and Australia.
It also said its decision to buy Geiger was based on the growing U.K. footwear market, which is worth 8 billion pounds, or $12.2 billion, with 3 percent annual forecast growth. It said growth would be faster in luxury and bridge footwear.
Geiger, it said, has the potential to expand its own brand offering into adjacent categories including the children’s footwear segment, and boasts longstanding luxury and premium concession partnerships with multiyear agreements.
Charles Miller-Jones, senior principal at Cinven, said: “Kurt Geiger has delivered strong growth through the cycle, whilst enjoying high cash conversion. Working together with management, we see real potential to develop further the omnichannel offering, as well as expand the business internationally.”
Clifford called the company’s ambitions are “significant” and said Geiger would continue to deliver strong growth both domestically and internationally.
About 75 percent of Geiger’s business is women’s footwear, with the balance in men’s, and licensing.
As reported, until a year ago, Geiger had struggled with its premium business as its customer had moved on to better-quality, more on-trend, lower-priced shoes that Zara and other high-street brands were offering.
Geiger responded with a big revamp and pushed its Asian-made Miss KG private label brand, with price points as low as 40 pounds, or $61, and almost everything under 100 pounds, or $152. The strategy worked, with Geiger building up business in its own stores and with midmarket department stores.
In contrast, its luxury business is shrinking as the major brands are increasingly going directly to the department stores to set up concessions, rather than have Geiger operate their spaces.