NEW YORK — Camuto Group has acquired the remaining shares of Bernard Chaus Inc., transitioning BCI into a wholly owned subsidiary.
Camuto previously owned 49 percent of BCI, and the Chaus family owned 51 percent. The purchase price for the 51 percent was undisclosed.
Ariel Chaus will remain chief executive officer of BCI and will work closely with Camuto Group’s chairman and ceo Alexander Del Cielo to develop a stronger platform for brands to grow through footwear, apparel and handbags.
“Camuto Group and Chaus have always shared the same strategic vision,” Del Cielo said. “Together we have established a 360-degree, multicategory brand foundation and are positioned to achieve enhanced success through brand extensions as well as prospective opportunities. Ariel and Josephine Chaus have been committed partners since we first began our association in 2010. Ariel has transformed the Chaus organization over the last few years and is committed to continuing to build the existing brand portfolio while also cultivating new businesses that drive top-line growth and profitability.”
BCI generates about $300 million in wholesale volume, according to market sources.
Reached for comment, Chaus said: “The company wasn’t for sale. We’ve been approached by several people who were very interested in the company.” He said it was an opportunity to further partner with Camuto and combine their strengths in women’s apparel, footwear, marketing and licensing.
Chaus said the collaboration “is part of a long-term strategy where combined operations fuel innovation and growth.” The opportunity represents not only the next step for BCI, but one for himself personally. “I have great respect for Alex and my relationship with him mirrors the close connection I had with Vince Camuto,” Chaus said.
Asked if he has a long-term contract, Chaus said he can’t disclose that, but added: “I’m heavily incentivized to stay.” He will also be working on Camuto’s overall business, as well.
In November 2010, Chaus inked a deal to produce Vince Camuto sportswear and ready-to-wear, beginning in fall 2011. Today, the brand generates more than $100 million at wholesale, according to sources. In 2012, Camuto Group acquired the shares of Chaus not owned by members of the Chaus family.
BCI, which is based at 530 Seventh Avenue, makes products under the Vince Camuto, Two by Vince Camuto, Chaus, 1.State, Cynthia Steffe, CeCe by Cynthia Steffe and CeCe trademarks and under private label brand names. The enhanced partnership is effective immediately and growth plans are already in development for the expansion of existing brands into new categories and the launch of several new businesses. Chaus said the new partnership will allow them to “leverage all the different categories and build these brands into major lifestyle brands.”
BCI was founded 40 years ago by Bernard and Josephine Chaus. Their son, Ariel, took over as ceo four years ago. Over the past four years, the company has turned itself around and become a major player in the better sportswear zone. Chaus noted that the company employs 200 people and the staff will remain intact.
“Jones is gone, Liz Claiborne is gone. Chaus is still going. We’ve reinvented ourselves. We’ve partnered with the right retailers, and we think there’s a great future ahead of us,” Chaus said.