CHINA CLUB: While the march of the big-ticket Chinese investor may be set to continue, it looks as if there will be no deal between Shandong Ruyi and Arcadia Group.
According to a report in The Sunday Times of London, Shandong Ruyi had Arcadia Group, which is owned by Sir Philip Green, in its sights, and was already looking at the company’s books.
On Monday, a Shandong spokesperson denied the report saying, “This is not the case, and it needs to be clarified.” Later in the day, Arcadia issued a more in-depth denial.
The Sunday Times said Shandong, the Chinese textile giant that controls SMCP and Hong Kong’s Trinity Group, was eyeing Arcadia, parent of Topshop and Topman and could buy all or part of the company. Arcadia also owns high-street retailers such as Burton, Miss Selfridge and Evans. Topshop and Topman are 25 percent owned by Leonard Green & Partners. LGP purchased the stake in 2012 in a deal that valued the retailers at 2 billion pounds.
The Arcadia statement, issued late Monday, said that Green and the board of the company are not plotting a “sell out,” as the article had claimed. “Neither Sir Philip nor any of the directors of Arcadia have ever met or had any contact with Shandong Ruyi, and they have never been to the Arcadia offices, as was suggested, to look at the company’s books. We have the greatest respect for them as an organization, but have had no dealings or contact with them.”
Arcadia also denied that any discussions have taken place with HSBC with regard to a potential sale. “Additionally, there is no truth in the suggestion by The Sunday Times that the company ‘has been seeking a buyer for some time,'” the statement said. Industry sources contacted by WWD had already dismissed the report on Sunday.
It would not be unusual, however, for the aggressive Shandong to be looking at any number of Western companies given its recent buying spree.
Earlier this month, it announced plans to buy Bally, and in November, it took a majority stake in Hong Kong’s Trinity Ltd., parent of brands including Hardy Amies, Gieves & Hawkes, Cerruti 1881 and Kent & Curwen. It also recently bought Aquascutum from the Chinese company YGM Trading.
In 2016, it added SMCP, parent of Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, to its bulging portfolio and took the French fashion group public in October on the Paris stock market. Shandong is also a joint owner of The Carloway Mill in Scotland, one of the few remaining makers of Harris Tweed.
The Chinese giant isn’t the only one on the prowl for European brands. Fosun International is said to have already clinched a deal to buy Lanvin, after having nabbed a majority stake in the Italian tailor Caruso in November. It’s doing due diligence on the lingerie label La Perla.
Chinese e-commerce players are also moving quickly into Western markets: Richard Li, founder and chairman of Secoo, China’s largest luxury e-commerce platform, swept into London earlier this month looking for opportunities to expand Secoo in Europe, while VIP.com has just become an official London Fashion Week sponsor and plans to work with London-based brands throughout the year to help them enter the Chinese market.