Camelot, an Italian private equity fund specializing in turning around small and medium-sized companies, has bought Tanino Crisci, an Italian high-end shoe manufacturer with annual sales of €10 million, for an estimated €20-30 million. The company, whose operating margin before amortization is close to zero, has eight stores offering footwear at an average selling price of €700 per pair.

Camelot already owns another Italian manufacturer of high-priced shoes, Sutor Mantellassi, and aims to carry out at least another acquisition in 2008 to create a footwear group with annual sales of about €30 million, compared with €20 million currently. Camelot intends to cash in on its investment by 2010, possibly through a stock exchange listing of its enlarged shoe group.

Tanino Crisci is expected to be in the black as soon as next year thanks to synergies with Sutor Mantellassi, such as the transfer of the latter’s production to Tanino Crisci’s manufacturing sites.

Camelot plans to open 10 stores for Tanino Crisci and to develop its wholesale sales to upmarket luxury stores. It has hired a designer, Max Verre, who previously worked for Gucci and currently designs shoes for Tom Ford.