The small family of Tory Burch investors has grown even smaller.
The move effectively boosts the ownership stakes held by designer Tory Burch and investment firms General Atlantic and BDT, the company’s major shareholders. A spokesman for Tory Burch confirmed the firm had bought Tresalia’s position, but declined further comment.
The Mexico City-based Tresalia is led by María Asunción Aramburuzabala and is said to have seen a sevenfold increase in the value of its Burch investment. The company bought 20 to 25 percent of the company in 2009, when the then five-year-old brand was valued at around $1 billion. Just three years later, BDT and General Atlantic bought in at a valuation of $2.25 billion. And a series of 2015 stock swaps established a still-higher valuation, which sources pegged at $3.5 billion.
But the market has softened since then and it could not be learned what the buyback valued the company at.
Initially, the process was said to be focused on bringing a new investor into the business, but instead something like the status quo will reign.
Tresalia Capital could not be reached, but was working with Goldman Sachs, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch was tapped to look after Burch’s interests. Both banks declined to comment.
Clearly this is a season of change for the company.
WWD first reported on Nov. 16 that John Mehas, president of Tory Burch, was moving on after two years to become chief executive officer of the embattled Victoria’s Secret.
That leaves the company with changes in the works in both its investor base and its management.
But Tory Burch, ceo, is seen as a savvy operator who built the business into a major brand and has weathered other shareholder turnovers and all sorts of business climates.
And the Tresalia move might have been inevitable. The firm stayed with the investment longer than is typical for a private equity player and with the stock market still near its highs, but starting to get increasingly shaky, the timing might be good for an exit.
The move also positions Tory Burch with a tighter investment base, which could make it simpler for the company to contemplate other ownership scenarios down the line.
Burch isn’t alone. Other fashion companies, retailers and investors have reevaluated how to play the market, with many looking for the exit as others bulk up. They include:
* Michael Kors Holdings agreed to buy Versace for $2.1 billion.
* Farfetch went public and is valued at $6.3 billion.
* George Feldenkreis took Perry Ellis private for $437 million.
* Proenza Schouler found a new backer in distressed investment specialist Mudrick Capital Management.
And others are in the wings still.
* The Haas family is said to be considering an IPO for Levi Strauss & Co.
* Qatar-backed Mayhoola for Investments is said to be open to offers for Valentino, which has drawn the eye of Kering.
In the luxury market, at least, scale is being seen as necessity, with even well-established brands struggling to compete with the well-funded powerhouse groups like Kering or LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
But while Tory Burch could be an attractive fit for one of the companies looking to broaden their business, the designer herself has always had an independent streak.
The company was long seen as a candidate for an IPO, but Burch has always brushed off the idea. In 2015, she told WWD, “Being private is a luxury and that is something I have always thought.”