PARIS — Chinese textile concern Shandong Ruyi Group said it would ramp up global expansion of Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, particularly in Asia, as it acquired a controlling interest in the three hot fashion chains.
WWD reported on March 29 that the private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., which owns 70 percent of the retailers’ corporate parent, SMCP, was close to a deal.
KKR is to retain a minority interest in the group, the three firms said in a joint press release, noting they had signed an exclusivity agreement for the acquisition.
Financial terms were not disclosed and the parties noted that transaction remains “subject to works council consultation and customary regulatory approvals.”
The deal has been estimated 1.3 billion euros, or $1.45 billion, including debt, giving new standing to Shandong Ruyi, relatively unknown to several U.S.-based fashion dealmakers. It’s the latest in a wave of acquisitions by deep-pocketed Chinese firms. The group Anbang, for example, is in a multibillion dollar bidding war with Marriott Hotels with Starwood.
Chinese fashion companies have been strong on production capacity, but generally haven’t committed to buying global brands, despite being on the hunt for years.
Shandong said it would retain SMCP’s design and creative teams in Paris along with “its current strategy and organizational structure, while benefiting from the global retailing expertise of its new shareholder.”
Parisians Evelyne Chétrite and Judith Milgrom founded Sandro and Maje in 1984 and 1998, respectively, while Claudie Pierlot set up her business in 1984.
Shandong chairman Yafu Qiu called the acquisition a “significant step” in its ambition to become a “leader in the fully integrated textiles and fashion business both in China and globally.”
He added that Shandong would help SMCP achieve its “long-term objective of becoming a global leader in accessible luxury.”
Daniel Lalonde, president and chief executive of SMCP, noted the chains would continue to expand in Europe, North America, Middle East and, particularly, Asia, leveraging Shandong’s expertise.
J.P. Morgan advised Shandong Ruyi and underwrote the associated debt transaction financing while Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS acted as financial advisers to SMCP and KKR.
Last October, KKR began evaluating “strategic options” for the company and had been looking to raise up to $190 million by listing at least a part of SMCP on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, potentially in June. That now seems a tactic to flush out buyers and speed the sale process. KKR bought the business in 2013.
Earlier this month, SMCP reported its 2015 revenues vaulted 33 percent to 675 million euros, or $748 million at average exchange rates, while earnings before interest, taxes, deprecation and amortization advanced 44 percent to 107 million euros, or $118 million.
The 1,118-door business operated in 33 countries at the end of 2015 and is gunning to add between 80 and 100 stores this year.
Lalonde recently called out the potential of the Chinese market, forecasting that between 2011 and 2020 the number of households entering the middle class there could grow to 85 million from 33 million. “They represent new customers for us,” he said.
That’s familiar territory, though, for Shandong, which makes and sells woolen textile goods in China and internationally. The Jining-based company markets its products under the Ruyi brand name and boasts more than 3,000 points of sale in Asia Pacific alone.