Brooks Brothers Spring 2013 Menswear

MILAN — Could an Italian-American collaboration be in the cards for the future of Brooks Brothers?

“An alliance would be very healthy and intelligent,” Luciano Donatelli, who has been spearheading a group of investors under the Club Deal 8 moniker to buy the storied American retailer, told WWD on Sunday evening.

According to a source close to the Italian investors, the funds necessary to make an offer to buy Brooks Brothers have been secured, but Donatelli is now convinced that it would make more sense to join forces with a group with knowledge of the American market.

“I believe that, since Brooks Brothers has such deep American roots, [the revamp] cannot be done without a collaboration with an American group that is aware of the different dynamics existing in the U.S. We have to find solutions together, in the full respect of the different cultures,” said Donatelli, who is set on convincing the other CD8 investors this would be the most logical path.

The source believes Donatelli is seeking a partner that will support his strategies for the future of Brooks Brothers’ Black Label.

As reported, Brooks Brothers has obtained $80 million in debtor-in-possession financing from ABG-BB LLC, a partnership between Authentic Brands Group LLC and Simon Property Group Inc. ABG and Simon provided the financing after a battle among it, WHP Global and Oaktree Capital Management.

Reports indicate that ABG would be open to working with the Italian group, although any partnership would most likely involve a licensing arrangement rather than a co-ownership deal.

Last month, Brooks Brothers revealed that it filed a motion in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to obtain court approval of an asset purchase agreement with Sparc Group LLC, a company backed by ABG with Simon Property Group.

Sources say the CD8 offer will stand on three pillars: sustainability; a lower number of stores compared to the 125 proposed by Authentic Brands Group, which, as reported has stepped forward with a $305 million stalking-horse bid to purchase Brooks Brothers, and a greater emphasis on the online channel.

Donatelli said his choice would fall on the group that will agree to the existing CD8 business plan put together with his management team for months.

He also said he had reached out to Tom Ford, whom he worked with in the early Nineties at the time of Gucci’s relaunch with Dawn Mello and Domenico De Sole, “to ask for advice because he has a unique strategic vision in addition to being one of the biggest American creative talents. He is passionate about Brooks Brothers like millions of Americans and I felt encouraged.”

CD8 investors include Alessandro Giglio, president of online retailer Giglio Group; the Biella-based Gruppo Verzoletto; entrepreneur and environmentalist Brando Crespi, founder of Pro-Natura, which supports and funds sustainable projects; legal manager Lorenza Morello, and Studio Dentons as an adviser.

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