MILAN — Italy’s Stroili jewelry brand is changing hands.
THOM Europe, the holding company of Histoire d’Or and other jewelry brands, has reached an agreement with Accessible Luxury, a shareholder group, to buy 100 percent of Stroili. THOM Europe specializes in affordable jewelry and the group’s three main brands are Histoire d’Or, Marc Orian and TrésOr.
The shareholder group that is selling Stroili includes Investindustrial, Alessandro Benetton‘s 21 Investimenti, Wise, NB Renaissance, Ergon Capital and L Catterton, the new investment firm created by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Groupe Arnault and other minority shareholders.
The acquisition will allow THOM Europe, which counts 572 stores in France and Europe, to further expand on the continent, leveraging Stroili’s own retail network of 369 stores in Italy.
Investindustrial first took a stake in Stroili in 2006, evolving it into a branded fashion retailer in both shopping malls and central city locations and increasing its footprint in directly operated stores. It invested a further 130 million euros, or $140.4 million at current exchange, in developing the business.
“Consumer retail is an important strategic sector for the Italian economy, which has come under intense pressure in recent years as a result of a weaker operating environment following the deepest recession in recent times,” said Andrea C. Bonomi, managing principal of Investindustrial.
“During this difficult time we are proud to have supported a long-term project aimed at strengthening this important sector. Stroili has undergone a transformational change program and since our entry has broadly tripled its revenues and doubled its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization and headcount, creating approximately 1,000 new job opportunities, to achieve a 42 percent share of the Italian affordable jewelry market.”
“Positioning portfolio companies for future growth through deeply operational investment plans is one of our core competencies. These plans resonate well with trade buyers, like, in this case, THOM Europe. Under its new ownership, Stroili is now well-positioned to unlock future growth.”
The former owners shifted Stroili’s focus onto higher margin own-branded products and increased its emphasis on brand management and advertising. Three different brands were consolidated under one single Stroili label, which has become highly recognizable in Italy.
In addition to improving store layouts and refinancing its capital structure, investments were made to vertically integrate Stroili’s operating model through the acquisition of a distributor and create a dedicated channel to service the wholesale business.
“During the 10-year partnership with Investindustrial and its co-investors, our company has been transformed from a local retail operator into the Italian leader in jewelry with a global customer base,” said Stroili chief executive officer Maurizio Merenda.
“Overall, we have become a better company with a stronger brand, a growing domestic and international network and a diversified product offering, which is increasingly focused on our profitable, own-branded products. We are grateful to our current shareholders for the significant contribution of expertise throughout an extremely challenging macro-economic recessionary period and we now move forward with the right strategic ownership partner for the next phase of growth.”
The closure of the agreement is expected to be completed by the end of October.
In addition to its own stores, Stroili is available at 1,000 points of sale and through in-flight catalogues at Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Qantas, KLM, Emirates, Etihad and Alitalia. In the 12 months ended March 31, Stroili generated total in-store sales of 216 million euros, or $240 million, and pro-forma EBITDA of 35 million euros, or $39 million. Stroili is based in Udine, Italy and has approximately 1,370 employees.
Investindustrial is a leading European group of independently managed investment, holding and advisory companies with funds totaling 5.6 billion euros, or $6.2 billion, and was founded by Italian financier Bonomi.
Investindustrial took control of Sergio Rossi, buying it from Kering in December. It also has stakes in Aston Martin, B&B Italia and luxury lighting firm Flos, among others. It is currently involved in a bid to take over RCS MediaGroup SpA with Tod’s chief executive officer Diego Della Valle and other shareholders in the Italian publishing group through a new company called International Acquisitions Holding Sarl.
In the 12 months ended March 31, THOM Europe generated total in-store sales of 387 million euros, or $430 million, and had a pro-forma adjusted EBITDA of 78 million euros, or $86.6 million.
Stroili first created M&A buzz in 2014, when the Italian chain of affordable gold and silver watches, jewelry and accessories, was said to have drawn interest from private equity firms Clessidra SGR SpA, Emerisque and VTB Capital.
LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault bought Stroili in 2004 merging it with the Franco Gioielli chain that his investment firm L Capital bought that year. Two years later, L Capital then sold a stake in Stroili to Investindustrial.