Jimmy Choo reclaims sex and the city

Luxury shoe designer Jimmy Choo is ready to buy back 50 per cent of the famed shoe brand that made him a household name.

In 2001, Choo sold his half of the company and current owner British investment firm Tower Brook Capital Partners purchased it in 2007 for a rumoured $US284 million ($275.9 million).

TowerBrook is now looking to sell its Jimmy Choo stake.

The remaining half is owned by former British Vogue accessories editor and chief creative officer Tamara Mellon, who has expanded the brand into 110 stores worldwide, up from 77 when Tower Brook made its purchase.

A fragrance and men’s shoe collection were added as Mellon took Jimmy Choo from being just another luxury shoe brand and into a wider luxury-goods sphere.

Mellon said she was also looking to add clothing, jewellery and homeware to the line.

In the three years that TowerBrook has owned half of Jimmy Choo, revenue reportedly more than doubled to ?150m ($233.3m).

TowerBrook announced in September 2010 that it had gained the services of international banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to consider long-term strategic alternatives for Jimmy Choo.

Ramez Sousou, the British firm’s co-chief executive officer said in a pressrelease announcing their intentions to sell:”Jimmy Choo is an importantinvestment for TowerBrook. Jimmy Choo has continued to evolve as a successful,innovative and high-value business, delivering record revenue growth andprofitability while preserving its pristine brand equity.

“We are now initiating a review of the best strategic and financing options for the business to support its long-term development and continued success.”

The asking price for TowerBrook’s holding is rumoured to be ?500m.

When Choo sold his 50 per cent of the company, it was said that he had walked away from the business to work on other projects.

But with an armful of new designs, ideas and wanting to conquer the lucrative Asian market, and Australia, Choo approached London broking firm,Daniel Stewart, to help on a bid to buy back the company he co-founded 15 years ago.

Adam Wilson, a major shareholder and partner of Daniel Stewart, basedin Dubai, handling international operations, is currently working on the bid and looking at potential investors.

“I have known Jimmy for about 10 years. He designed my wife’s wedding shoes and I met him after he sold his half of the brand,” Mr Wilson told The Australian.

“He has been teaching and promoting in Malaysia and I did ask him a few times if he wanted to get back into the business.

“I approached him when I heard that TowerBrook was looking to sell. Jimmy had a think about it, seeing it was a big step, but I think the time frame helped his decision,” he added.

Wilson wouldn’t say which investors he had met or the number of investors they were looking for.

Luxury goods house LVMH is expected to put in a bid, as will European private equity firm Permira, which now owns Valentino.

While brand expansion and having a stronger presence in Asia are priorities,Choo is looking to continue working with young designers and sharing his passion for shoe design.

– Bernama

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