NEW YORK — J.Mendel, the luxury fur, ready-to-wear and accessories company, is in play.
The Gores Group, the L.A. private-equity company that acquired J.Mendel in August 2010, has hired an investment-banking firm and a strategic financial adviser to find a buyer for its majority stake in the brand.
Marc Durie, who was named president and chief executive officer of J.Mendel in 2013, said, “J.Mendel and its shareholders see significant global growth opportunities for the brand, which will require both capital and international partners. Having received several inquiries from outside parties, we are considering our options under the advice of BDA Partners and Vendome Global Partners.”
A spokeswoman for The Gores Group had no comment Friday. Euan Rellie, senior managing director of BDA Partners, also had no comment, and Elsa Berry, cofounder and managing partner at Vendome Global Partners, couldn’t be reached.
J.Mendel became Gores’ first luxury asset when it bought the brand, but sources said the private-equity firm never invested enough capital to grow the business to significant profitability since it wasn’t a core holding. Gilles Mendel, a fifth-generation family member at J.Mendel, retained a significant stake in the company and continued as ceo and chief designer after the sale to Gores. Today, Mendel’s title is chief creative officer. At the time of the acquisition, Gores former managing director Jeffrey Schwartz said, “There are many, probably hundreds, of fashion companies that are run by very talented, creative people, but they are not as focused on running their businesses for profitability as they are for designing clothes.”
Established in 1870, in Russia, as a boutique specializing in luxury furs, J.Mendel has expanded its fur business into ready-to-wear, bridal and accessories over the past several years, with varying degrees of success. The brand’s eveningwear is often seen on the red carpet. Sources said the business needs capital to grow and a deep-pocketed partner who is willing to invest in the brand long-term. The company also needs to develop its international presence. In addition to its 80 wholesale accounts worldwide, J.Mendel has one directly owned boutique at 787 Madison Avenue here and leased departments at Bergdorf Goodman, Harrod’s and Hirshleifers. It sells at such stores as Tsum in Moscow. The company’s total volume is in excess of $30 million, said sources.
In August 2013, it was reported that Gores hired Barclays to test the market for new investors in the designer brand, according to financial sources. The bank began sending out feelers to would-be investors several months earlier. That never panned out.
Gores’ current portfolio includes companies in such industries as technology, telecommunications, business services, industrial, health care, media and entertainment, and consumer products. As of September 2014, the firm had about $3.5 billion in assets under management.