Are the Murray brothers ready to cash in?
Eighteen years after ditching their desk jobs in Manhattan to create a line of whimsical neckties under the name Vineyard Vines, brothers Shep and Ian Murray are reportedly seeking an investor.
According to a Reuters report, the Stamford, Conn.-based company has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to sell a minority stake in the business. Representatives for both Vineyard Vines and Goldman declined comment.
When asked three years ago if they would consider selling a stake, Ian Murray told WWD that the idea was not out of the question: “At some point, we’re going to have to figure it out,” he said at the time. “We’re starting to have those internal discussions and talking about what we want for our families. This is no longer a bootstrap business.”
Although the Reuters report put the valuation of the company at $1 billion, sources believe that number is highly inflated. At the time of the 15th anniversary in 2013, volume was a little north of $100 million.
Financial sources said annual volume is now likely closer to $550 million to $600 million. These sources also said that the Murray brothers have been approached by private equity firms before and that there’s interest from investors.
Since 2013, the brand has continued to expand and roll out retail stores at an aggressive rate. The newest addition is currently being prepped, a 6,000-square-foot store in Grand Central Terminal that is expected to open shortly. It will carry men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories.
Other new stores opening this year include Stanford Town Center in Stanford, Calif.; Troy, Mich., in the Somerset Collection; Hyde Park in Tampa, Fla., and the Village of Corte Madera in California. All told, Vineyard Vines operates over 70 stores around the country and is also the Official Style of the Kentucky Derby and the Official Style of The America’s Cup sailing regatta.
One retail source said the Murrays have been aiming to have 100 stores open by the end of this year.
“They’re definitely out there talking to money people,” said the retailer.
William Susman, founder of boutique advisory and research firm Threadstone Partners, said, “Vineyard Vines is clearly a brand. The size and unique positioning has always been great. The question is growth. What’s left? Did they wait too long to sell?”
The company last year completed a $15.6 million buildout of a new headquarters in its hometown of Stamford. Helping to fund the project was a $6 million, 10-year loan at 1 percent interest through Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development. The new headquarters helped to create 200 new jobs and retain 150 existing jobs over a five-year period.
If Vineyard Vines were to find an investor, it would be the second preppy brand to get a cash infusion in the past several weeks. At the end of April, Oxford Industries acquired Southern Tide, a South Carolina-based lifestyle brand with a similar sensibility. That deal was for $85 million.