LVMH buys minority stake in designer Maxime Simoens

PARIS Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:53pm EST

PARIS Feb 21 (Reuters) - LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, unveiled its first acquisition in fashion in four years on Thursday when it took a minority stake in young French fashion brand Maxime Simoens for an undisclosed sum.

As part of the deal, Sidney Toledano, chief executive of LVMH's biggest fashion brand Christian Dior, will coach the 28-year-old designer and his staff of ten.

The LVMH group, which owns Louis Vuitton, Celine, Fendi and Kenzo, said in an emailed statement it wished to "accompany the development of this young talented French designer."

The deal comes after LVMH rival PPR announced last month it was acquiring control of British brand Christopher Kane to reinforce its stable of fashion brands which include Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.

LVMH had not made any acquisition in the fashion industry since 2009 when it took a 49-percent stake in Edun, the Africa-centred brand founded by Ali Hewson and U2 singer Bono.

The Simoens deal provides further evidence of a pick-up in consolidation in the luxury fashion sector driven by expectations of growth in Asia and North America and solid demand from travellers in Europe.

Maxime Simoens, known for his modern and graphic style, created his own brand in 2009 after working for a number of designers including Elie Saab, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior and Balenciaga.

"This partnership endorsement will allow the house to develop my creative vision internationally. It's like a new kick off!," Simoens said in a statement.

The French designer, who graduated from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, started taking part in the Paris calendar of couture shows in Jan. 2011.

The brand has been sold in some 20 multi-brand stores around the world, including Montaigne Market and Maria Luisa in Paris.

Maxime Simoens will unveil his first ready-to-wear collection on March 3 together with his first bag and shoes collection. (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Mark Potter)

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