(Refiles to fix error in spelling of "whose" in paragraph 11)
* Designer Gaultier ended creative ties with Hermes last yr
* Jean-Paul Gaultier sales 2010 estimated at 26 mln euros
* Gaultier company still slightly loss making
(Adds details, analyst comment, background)
By Astrid Wendlandt and Lionel Laurent
PARIS, April 1 Hermes (HRMS.PA) is looking to
sever longstanding ties with star designer Jean-Paul Gaultier as
the French luxury group has begun talks to sell its 45 percent
stake in the Gaultier fashion brand.
Hermes, which had raised its stake in Jean-Paul Gaultier to
45 percent in 2008 from 35 percent, said on Friday it had been
approached by potential buyers and was studying all options.
Analysts estimate the stake to be worth several million
euros and expect its disposal to have only a minor impact on
Gaultier, known for sailor themed outfits, is looking for
investors to expand in regions such as Asia, Les Echos reported
But a source close to Gaultier said it was Hermes which was
keen to sell its stake.
Gaultier still controls his company and remains one of the
longest enduring French designers alongside Karl Lagerfeld at
The Gaultier fashion brand, founded in 1976, makes the bulk
of its revenues from licence deals, particularly perfume.
Its sales climbed back last year to about 26 million euros,
up from 23 million euros in 2009 but the company is still
slightly loss making. Gaultier has some 30 boutiques worldwide.
Back in 1998, Gaultier had generated 13 million euros in
Gaultier, who designed womenswear collections for Hermes,
left the group last year following the death of Jean-Louis
Dumas, Hermes's former charismatic head who had hired him.
Gaultier, whose ties to Hermes date back to 1999 when the
group took a 35 percent stake in his company, had called his
departure from Hermes "the end of a love story."
Gaultier was replaced by Lacoste's Christophe Lemaire whose
first collection presented in March was well received by the
fashion press. [ID:nLDE7222B9]
"Gaultier quit as creative director last year, which would
give some logic to this decision," Vontobel analyst
Jean-Philippe Bertschy said about Hermes move to sell its
Graphic on European luxury goods sector comparison:
Graphic on M&A league tables: r.reuters.com/kyb46q
BREAKINGVIEWS-Arnault bags Bulgari: [ID:nLDE7260RP]
LUXURY DEALS BACK IN FASHION
Consolidation has returned this year to the luxury sector
after the industry bounced back from the 2009 slump much faster
than analysts expected.
LVMH, controlled by billionaire Bernard Arnault, last month
agreed to acquire Italian peer Bulgari BULG.MI after building
up a 20.2 percent stake in Hermes.
Positive investor sentiment is also encouraging unlisted
groups to consider floating on the stock market. Italy's Prada
has applied for a Hong Kong IPO which could value it at around 8
billion euros and allow it to draw Asian investors.
Hermes shares were flat at 154.95 euros by 0904 GMT.
(Editing by Christian Plumb and Jane Merriman)