PARIS — The M&A market for designer and luxury businesses keeps on percolating, with Dries Van Noten the latest house to be scooped up.
Puig, the family-owned Spanish fragrance and fashion firm, acquired the Belgian fashion label known for its dignified, elegant designs tinged with exotic details.
“Puig will be the majority owner alongside Dries, who remains, over the long-term, a significant minority shareholder,” the companies said jointly in a statement on Thursday. “Additionally, Dries Van Noten will continue as chief creative officer and chairman of the board.”
WWD broke the news March 27 that the Belgian designer had hired Elsa Berry’s Vendôme Global Partners to bring in an investor.
The Dries Van Noten buy comes just a few months following Chinese conglomerate Fosun International taking control of French luxury house Lanvin, and Amsterdam-based private equity firm Sapinda Holdings buying luxe lingerie company La Perla.
The Dries Van Noten purchase also could symbolize a deeper push into fashion for Puig. At present, an estimated 90 percent of its 1.94 billion-euro business comes from fragrance and cosmetics.
“We look forward to further developing the Dries Van Noten label, a brand renowned for exceptional creativity,” Marc Puig, Puig chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement. “As an independent house, Dries Van Noten has, over the years, built an exceptional reputation with its avant-garde fashion collections. Our entry today into the capital structure of Dries Van Noten proves yet again our strategic commitment to developing the Puig fashion business.”
The Puig fashion portfolio includes Carolina Herrera, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne.
The last fashion purchase for Puig took place in 2011, when it took a majority stake in Jean Paul Gaultier. More recently, Puig’s buys have been in the fragrance and cosmetics realms, with brands such as L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon’s.
Van Noten said: “I have been searching for a strong partner for the company which I have built for more than 30 years. I am especially happy that Antwerp and my team will remain at the company’s heart and center. Our relationship with our customers is a cherished one and will only benefit from this enhanced vision.”
One of the original Antwerp Six, Van Noten comes from a family of tailors and is a graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He launched his label with men’s wear in 1986, and established his flagship store, known as Het Modepaleis and located on the site of a historic department store, in his hometown in 1989.
Like many Belgian designers, Van Noten has resisted most of the common paths to growth, forgoing pre-collections, advertising, celebrity dressing and a handbag push.
“Our business doesn’t have to grow every year a huge amount like when you are a part of a big group,” he said in a 2013 interview. “I don’t need to have a store in every city. It’s a luxury that I can say I just want to continue the way that we are doing…to be creative and be busy with things I really love and not be forced to do all the bags and the shoes and the sunglasses and things like that.”
He also doesn’t make fragrances, another cash cow for luxury brands, though his perfumer friend Frédéric Malle did the first in his series of “portrait” scents of Van Noten, and selections of his perfumes, displayed on silver trays, are sold in many Van Noten boutiques.
One source estimated the size of Van Noten’s business — which is focused mainly on ready-to-wear for women and men, and wholesale distribution — at under $100 million.
He has boutiques in cities including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris and Seoul, some with partners, while key retail clients include Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Le Bon Marché, Harrods, Lane Crawford, Harvey Nichols and Shinsegae.
The designer was made International Designer of the Year in 2008, and more recently, he was decorated by Fashion Group International, the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT and the Flemish Royal Academy of Belgium.
Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris mounted an exhibition in 2014 devoted to his designs and their influences, which later traveled to Antwerp.
Puig’s beauty business is a mix of owned and licensed brands, which includes Prada, Christian Louboutin and Comme des Garçons. In late May, L’Oréal announced the group had inked a license for Valentino fragrances and beauty products, which had been part of the Puig portfolio since 2010.
In April, Puig said it aims to break past the 3 billion euro mark in sales by 2025.