LONDON — It looks as if Chloé has joined the list of Richemont brands on potential buyers’ lips.
This story first appeared in the November 6, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
According to industry sources, Compagnie Financière Richemont is actively shopping Chloé around as part of the ongoing review of the group’s soft luxury portfolio. Meanwhile, private equity investors are putting out feelers to potential managers for the French brand in the event of a sale, according to other industry sources.
Separately, both Shanghai Tang and Dunhill are also open to offers, according to industry sources. A Richemont spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday, and Chloé executives did not respond to a request for comment.
According to sources close to Chloé, it’s business as usual as the brand continues to mark its 60th anniversary with the launch of the book “Chloé: Attitudes” (Rizzoli); a strategic emphasis on the Baylee bag, and plans to recruit high-level managers.
Clare Waight Keller, the brand’s creative director who showed her spring collection in Paris last month, did an encore in Los Angeles on Oct. 29, the French brand’s first runway outing in California’s most populous city.
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Ever since Richemont’s chairman Johann Rupert said last May that the world’s second-largest luxury group needed to “cull its bad investments quicker,” the markets have been fizzing with speculation about disposals, especially of Richemont’s soft luxury brands, which have been underperforming compared with its watches and jewelry divisions.
As reported, Richemont has handed Nomura the mandate to sell leather goods brand Lancel, and according to industry sources, Net-a-porter could be sold, merged with another company or spun off. WWD reported last month that Richemont had been in merger and acquisitions talks with the online retailer Yoox with an eye to finding a buyer for Net-a-porter. Richemont has declined to comment on the Lancel reports and has denied that Net-a-porter is for sale. Yoox denied that it has been in recent talks to buy Net-a-porter.
Last week, Thomas Chauvet of Citigroup in London published a detailed report in which he said he expects Richemont to make a “complete exit” from fashion and accessories in a bid to refocus on its hard luxury brands. The aim would be to forge a more “homogenous” group that generates higher margins and capital returns.
Chauvet said that if sold, the soft luxury division — Lancel, Chloé, Dunhill, Shanghai Tang, Purdey, Azzedine Alaïa and Peter Millar — could fetch up to 1.86 billion euros, or $2.57 billion, while Net-a-porter could be valued at 2.28 billion euros, or $3.15 billion, in either a sale or a spin-off into a separately listed company.
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