The Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has won the auction for the takeover of the Nine West brand of footwear and the Bandolino brand of handbags from Nine West Holdings. ABG had filed an initial “stalking horse” bid of $200 million for the two businesses, but raised it in the end to $340 million to win against a competing bid by the DSW shoe retailing group.
ABG owns and licenses more than 25 lifestyle, celebrity and entertainment brands including Frye, Juicy Couture, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Tretorn. The company, which is run by Jamie Salter, is expected to follow a similar business model with Nine West and Bandolino.
Besides launching a strong global footwear platform for all its brands, ABG plans to expand the reach of Nine West and Bandolino into the apparel and home categories and into new markets. Meanwhile, ABG has signed contracts with Marc Fisher Footwear to operate Nine West's footwear businesses and with Signal Products for Bandolino's leathergoods.
ABG has made numerous acquisitions in the last few years including Taryn Rose in 2013. A few weeks ago it announced its takeover of Nautica, a sportswear brand owned by VF Corporation. ABG's other holdings include Airwalk, a brand of skate-inspired shoes; Spyder, a brand of sports clothing; and Prince, a brand of tennis racquets. With the two acquisitions, retail sales of footwear and accessories by ABG's brands and their licensees are reaching an annual level of around $2 billion, or one-quarter of total retail sales.
The bankruptcy court that is handling the sale of Nine West and Bandolino is set to approve it on June 18, and the transaction should be completed by July 15. The proceeds from the sale will help Nine West Holdings to pay down some of its debt of $1.5 billion, which led the group to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The company said the latest disposals will help it to concentrate on its other profitable and growing businesses, including Anne Klein, The Jewelry Group, the Kasper Group and the One Jeanswear Group. It didn't mention Gloria Vanderbilt, another brand name in its portfolio.
ABG already had a relationship with the Nine West Group three years ago. In 2015, ABG bought the Jones New York label from the Nine West Group's former controlling shareholder, Sycamore Partners.
Sycamore bought Nine West in 2014 as part of the former Jones Group in 2014 in a deal worth a total of $2.2 billion. It subsequently sold two high-end shoe labels controlled by Jones, Stuart Weitzman and Kurt Geiger.
Nine West has more than 800 stores in 57 countries. It started off as a footwear brand, opening its first specialty store in 1983, and it subsequently diversified into other products. In 1995, it acquired the footwear division of the former U.S. Shoe Corporation, including its Easy Spirit brand.
The sale of Nine West and the much smaller Flip Flop Shoes chain (see the previous article in this issue) follows the bankruptcy of more than 15 major U.S. retailers, in the past year in the midst of the digital disruption of the sector and the desertification of the shopping malls. That includes major shoe retailers like Aerosoles, Payless Shoe Source and The Walking Company, which are still in business in different ways than before.