* Aims to boost designer Christopher Kane's global presence
* To open first boutique in London as early as 2014
* Says brand has room to grow in Asia
By Astrid Wendlandt
PARIS, Jan 15 French luxury group PPR
is to expand the Christopher Kane fashion brand's presence in
Asia, open boutiques and grow its accessories business after
acquiring a 51 percent stake in the British designer's label.
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, is part of PPR's strategy
to beef up its luxury portfolio with small brands that have
growth potential, in a bid replicate its success with Stella
McCartney and Alexander McQueen.
Christopher Kane, known for his modern designs, digital
prints and original mix of fabrics, was founded in 2006 by the
Scottish-born designer and his sister Tammy after he graduated
from Central Saint Martins College, London.
"We think it can become a sizeable business," Alexis Babeau,
managing director of PPR's luxury division, told journalists on
Tuesday. PPR also has a sportswear business.
Babeau said PPR had increased sales of Alexander McQueen 12
times since buying control in 2001, adding that annual revenue
generated by the British brand and by Stella McCartney both
exceeded 100 million euros ($134 million).
While it took several years for PPR to turn those two brands
into profitable operations, Babeau said Christopher Kane was
already making money.
PPR also owns French fashion brands Balenciaga and Yves
Saint Laurent as well as Italian labels Bottega Veneta and
Gucci, the world's second largest fashion brand in terms of
sales after Louis Vuitton.
It also controls sports brands Puma and Volcom.
Kane launched his first menswear and resort collections in
2010 and was the lead designer of Versace's Versus line until
2012. Christopher Kane is distributed by wholesalers at 200
"The brand is a ready-to-wear brand but we hope to expand
other areas such as leather goods and accessories," Babeau said,
adding that the former currently made up 4 percent of sales.
FIRST LONDON BOUTIQUE
Babeau said the aim was to open a first Christopher Kane
boutique in London as early as next year and develop its network
of shops thereafter. He said the brand, which made more than
half its sales in Europe, had "room to grow in Asia".
For now, Christopher Kane will be managed by its founders
and could be run by a PPR-appointed chief executive later.
Kane himself said while he had met with other potential
suitors, he was attracted by PPR's experience developing British
brands which he "saw as good prospect for the future".
PPR, which looked at jeweller Harry Winston - which
agreed on Monday to be acquired by Swatch - but thought
was too expensive, is completing its transformation into a pure
luxury and sportswear group by selling its retail operations.
After disposing of furniture chain Conforama and unveiling
plans to spin off electronics retailer Fnac later this year, PPR
said this month it was in talks to sell children brands Cyrillus
and Vertbaudet to private equity firm Alpha for 119 million
In December, PPR said its Redcats mail order business had
agreed to sell its U.S. plus-size fashion business OneStopPlus
Group to private equity group Charlesbank Capital Partners and
Webster Capital for an enterprise value of $525
Babeau said PPR continued to be on the lookout for small to
mid-sized brands but no deal was planned in the near future.
($1 = 0.7482 euro)
(Editing by Dan Lalor)