Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although the transaction is expected to close some time this month. Nine West said it has used the net proceeds from the sale of its Easy Spirit wholesale business to purchase Kasper.
Kasper and Nine West were part of the Jones Apparel Group, which were acquired by private equity firm Sycamore Partners in April 2014 for $2.2 billion. Following the acquisition, Sycamore split the Jones business into different groups, with Nine West and Kasper operating as separate portfolio companies under Sycamore’s umbrella.
Ralph Schipani, interim chief executive officer of Nine West Holdings, said, “The Kasper Group is a profitable wholesale business that we anticipate will make a positive impact on the company’s financial performance. This acquisition of Kasper’s reputable branded apparel will enable Nine West Holdings to offer its customers an array of women’s affordable, wear-to-work tailored clothing, footwear and accessories.”
According to Schipani, “With the Easy Spirit transaction, the company has sold an underperforming asset with negative EBITDA and reinvested the proceeds into a profitable Kasper business that we believe will bring immediate improvement to the company’s cash flow and liquidity, resulting in a significant deleveraging of the company.”
Nine West has been cited by ratings agencies Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings for having a high debt level, as well as deteriorating operating performance due in part to challenges in the women’s jeanswear market. Last fall it had about $1.7 billion in debt, and had to renegotiate a $275 million credit facility so it could access more of the facility without tripping a loan covenant.
The renegotiated facility and the Easy Spirit transaction eases some of the financial pressure, but the company still faces headwinds that result from the shift in consumer spending away from apparel and accessories.
The portfolio of brands under Nine West’s umbrella include Nine West, Anne Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt and L.E.I.