MILAN Emerisque Brands is coming to Italy.

After selling its Valentino business last year, Permira said Tuesday it has divested the MCS We The People brand, formerly known as Marlboro Classics, controlled by MCS Italia SpA. The transaction took place between the Emerisque Brands UK Limited investment vehicle Cavaliere Holdings S.à r.l. and Red and Black S.à r.l., indirectly controlled by the Permira Funds with the Marzotto family. Financial details were not disclosed. Emerisque said it is potentially eyeing further acquisitions in Italy.

The casual apparel brand MCS had been recently strengthening its American heritage. In 2012, MCS Italia, which counts 400 employees, reached sales of more than 110 million euros, or $140.8 million at average exchange rate. 

Ajay Khaitan, co-founder of Emerisque Brands and former chairman and chief executive of Lee Cooper Group, previously an Emerisque investment, said the goal is to expand MCS around the world, adding the label “has an inherited brand signature of a distinctive execution of American West ruggedness, in a refined, contemporary, Italian way that we believe may have the capacity to capture the imagination of a global consumer. We hope, as international, growth-oriented brand people, we can help MCS realize the potential it has in its current core markets, in growth channels and in new growth markets.”

MCS is available in 40 countries around the world, including Italy, France, Eastern and Northern Europe, Hong Kong and the Middle East. There are 1,400 points of sale that carry the brand, including 300 MCS units and corners. The bulk of the business is in men’s wear, but it also does women’s wear, which is a smaller part of the company.


Massimo Gasparini, non-executive chairman designate for MCS and representative of Emerisque Brands in Italy, said the group had “been looking for some time to invest in an Italian brand with critical mass and potential for growth in emerging markets such as Greater China, Greater Russia, India and the Middle East. With the success of this investment, we would hope to establish a platform that could form the basis for more such brand investments in Italy.”

Mario Rinaldi, ceo of MCS, said the sale will allow the brand “to further consolidate its unique position in the casual wear market.” While thanking Red & Black, he said Emerisque’s  “track-record in apparel and retail, their branding skills and their global reach, are likely to be instrumental in the next phase.”

Founded in 2004, other Emerisque investments include Hickey Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Exclusively Misook, Christopher Blue, Palm Beach, Sansabelt and Monarchy.