Winona Capital Management has made a “significant” growth equity investment in Kjus, a high-end Swiss skiwear brand.
Luke Reese, managing director of Winona, said Kjus’ founders, Didi Serena and Lasse Kjus, and their team will remain with the brand. However, Reese will serve as vice chairman and Winona will also have two seats on the board.
“Kjus has the most technically advanced products in the industry, as demonstrated by their market-leading position in Europe,” Reese said. “We look forward to building on this strength and helping to expand their global presence.”
He said the brand was the first to “break the $1,000 barrier” in ski outerwear and is “as innovative in skiwear as Lululemon was in yoga.” He said the brand offers European styling with innovative fabrics and details. The company also offers a “skiwear hits the streets collection,” called Spirit, which Reese said is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue in the U.S. It also offers a small golfwear collection.
Kjus is offered in about 70 stores in the States and Reese expects that number to rise modestly to around 100 to 125. “We’re looking to be very exclusive,” he said.
Reese said that Serena and Kjus had not pursued an investment and, in fact, it took Winona four years to convince them to be added as shareholders. “They didn’t need our money,” he said, adding that the founders also “did not sell any shares. But after they saw what we did with Peter Millar, they agreed to have us put in some growth equity.”
Winona last year sold luxury golfwear brand Peter Millar to Compagnie Financière Richemont SA for more than $110 million. Winona had acquired a 60 percent stake in Peter Millar in 2009.
“We think this is also a great investment,” Reese said.