Could Isabel Marant, who sold a 51 percent stake to a private equity firm in 2015, be in play again?
According to sources, Montefiore Investment has tasked American firm J.P. Morgan with selling its stake. It could not be immediately learned if Marant might also tender additional shares in the Paris-based fashion house she created. Its other original partners are Nathalie Chemouny and Sophie Duruflé.
Contacted by WWD, a spokeswoman for Montefiore said the company “doesn’t comment on rumors.”
A Marant spokesman echoed a similar message: “The maison Isabel Marant is regularly solicited. In this particular context, we do not comment on market rumors.”
J.P. Morgan also declined to comment.
The brand is said to be highly profitable, having generated 60 million euros in EBITDA in 2019 on net revenues of 300 million euros. According to sources, profitability accelerated in 2021.
The company has almost doubled in size since 2015, with its store network ballooning from 10 to 70 during the period.
Europe’s luxury conglomerates LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering — usually the first names on everyone’s lips when a brand comes on the market — may not be tempted by Marant, given its medium scale and positioning a notch below luxury.
Sources said Mayhoola for Investment, the Qatari fund behind Valentino, could take a look along with the likes of Capri Holdings or private equity giant KKR. (Capri declined to comment and KKR could not be reached immediately). It is understood, the Marant business is heavily weighted to the U.S., a burgeoning market for fashion and luxury goods.
Founded in 1994, the label is credited with inventing the bohemian Parisienne hipster-meets-tomboy look. Quilted jackets and skinny motorcycle pants are among its signatures in apparel, while cult accessories include the wedge sneaker, launched in 2012. The style spurred a sea of knock-offs and became one of the recent defining footwear trends.
The brand, which counts Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kendall and Kylie Jenner among its devotees, has been opening stores and expanding into new categories like eyewear and skiwear.
In October, the company revealed plans to more than double its retail presence in China over the next four years.
Last June, it launched a secondhand site that will take donations of used clothing from the label in exchange for vouchers, offering a new model for an industry under pressure to get involved in the post-sale life cycle of their products.
The Marant acquisition was the first investment in fashion for Montefiore, whose portfolio includes online travel agencies MisterFly and Cruiseline, fitness chain Les Cercles de la Forme and domain name provider Gandi.
Montefiore seems to be bringing the brand back out into the dealmaking scene at a good time. The stock market — which helps set the price for all companies — is still at a high and European brands are getting particular interest.
This month, John Idol — who leads Capri Holdings as chief executive officer and chairman and built the company by cobbling together Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo — said he remains on the watch for deals in Europe.
“We believe that we will continue to focus only on the luxury area, which predominantly means, and I would almost say exclusively means, European luxury companies that really have the ability to be at minimum $1 billion because it’s not really worth our time, energy and effort to do something that will only be hundreds of millions of dollars, even though it’s a very sizable business,” Idol said. “It takes the same synergy and effort to put that into a few hundred million as it does $1 billion-plus business.
“So we’re active,” Idol said. “We are actively looking now. We’re actually even involved in select conversations, nothing is on the horizon, but we are active.”
And clearly, he’s not the only one.
—With contributions from EVAN CLARK