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Jimmy Choo, Bally up for sale as JAB shifts focus on coffee

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-04-2017 Thomas Buckley

Investment firm JAB put shoemakers Jimmy Choo Plc and Bally International AG up for sale, focusing on its growing food and coffee operations and seeking to benefit from a rebound in sales of luxury footwear and accessories.

JAB Luxury GmbH, part of the investment arm of the billionaire Reimann family, said on Monday it’s reviewing strategic options for Jimmy Choo and Bally. The closely held company has expanded a push into non-luxury areas, this month agreeing to buy Panera Bread Co. for about $7.2 billion, adding a bakery-cafe chain to a food empire that spans coffee, bagels and doughnuts. It’s also the biggest shareholder in cosmetics maker Coty.

“JAB has made the strategic decision to focus on its successful core businesses of consumer goods, including Coty Inc.,” it said.

London-based Jimmy Choo, the maker of £895 ($1,144) Lolita 100 sandals, said on Monday it will conduct a review of strategic options to maximize value for shareholders and is seeking offers. JAB followed with separate statements saying it supported the Jimmy Choo review and is considering options for Bally, the Swiss-based seller of clothing and footwear.

Jimmy Choo, whose fans have ranged from the late Princess Diana to the fictional Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City, has seen its shares rebound over the past nine months as demand for premium goods has revived.

The brand could attract interest from a larger luxury player trying to build up its portfolio of shoes and accessories, which are seeing rising consumer demand amid a rebound in key markets such as China.

Before agreeing to buy Panera Bread, JAB snapped up chains including Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, turning it into one of three big global players in the coffee business alongside Starbucks Corp. and Nestle SA.

Jimmy Choo shares rose 9.8% to a record 185 pence at 9.52am in London, valuing the company at about £702 million. After a tough first couple of years following its October 2014 IPO, the stock has rebounded this year to a level consistently above the 140 pence offer price.

Jimmy Choo’s products are sold at more than 150 of its own shops worldwide, and department stores and other outlets. Revenue rose 15% last year to £364 million, boosted by the fall in the pound since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, which increases the value of overseas sales when converted into the British currency.

The company said the UK, which has seen an influx of bargain-hunting tourists since the Brexit vote, and China were among the best-performing markets in the second half of the year. Luxury-goods companies ranging from LVMH to watchmaker Richemont have reported gains in the Asian market after several years of slumping sales that followed a government crackdown on corruption.

The sale process is likely to be completed by the end of the summer, the shoemaker said, adding that it had not received any approaches at the time of its statement.

The Bally review is expected to be completed in the second half, JAB said.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup are handling the auctions of both Jimmy Choo and Bally, according to the statements.

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