NEW YORK — Could Elie Saab be the next red-carpet luxury brand to attract outside funding?
According to market sources, representatives for the Beirut-based fashion house have been putting out feelers to potential investors as it seeks to ramp up its international expansion.
The development comes only a week after Michael Kors Holding Ltd. acquired Jimmy Choo for $1.35 billion, suggesting luxury brands are capable of attracting high multiples despite a general decline in M&A activity in the sector.
Officials at Elie Saab were not immediately available to comment.
Though best known for cocktail and eveningwear, Saab in recent years has grown its assortment of ready-to-wear and accessories, branching out into sunglasses via a license with Italy’s Safilo Group in 2015 and recently launching a follow-up to its debut fragrance Le Parfum called Girl of Now.
The company also operates freestanding boutiques in Dubai, Beirut, Hong Kong and Paris, where the designer has shown his couture since 2000 and rtw since 2005.
In an interview with WWD last September, he said he was looking at additional options in Asia and the U.S., with retail already accounting for about half of the rtw business. “We would like to have about 20 flagships,” Saab said.
He said the privately held firm had been tracking an average growth rate of 35 percent in recent years, far outpacing the moderate pace logged by most of Europe’s major luxury players. He stressed that couture remains the backbone of the business, accounting for a quarter of its revenues.
The company employs 400 seamstresses in Beirut, about half of them dedicated to couture and based in the headquarters. Other ateliers are dedicated to rtw, beaded pieces and eveningwear. Production of daywear and cocktail is done mostly in Italy.