Luxury news

French luxury group Kering buys 30% stake in Valentino

The parent company of brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent has the option of purchasing full control of Valentino by the end of 2028

Models walk the runway for the autumn-winter 2023 Valentino show during Paris Fashion Week

Kering agreed to buy a 30 per cent stake in fashion house Valentino for €1.7 billion in cash as growth at Gucci, its biggest brand, continues to sputter.

The French company has the option to purchase the rest of Valentino from its owner, Qatar’s Mayhoola, before the end of 2028. The deal, coming just weeks after Kering bought high-end perfumer Creed, could lead to Mayhoola taking a stake in the luxury group.

The Gucci owner has struggled to keep pace with rivals amid a boom in the fashion business that’s helped transform bigger French firm LVMH into the most valuable company in Europe. Hermes on Friday posted a jump in sales on resilient demand for products like its Birkin handbags, notably in the US and China.

Kering Chief Executive Officer Francois-Henri Pinault is pushing to close the gap with its rivals. Activist investors including Bluebell Capital Partners are circling the French luxury group, with Kering sounding out defence advisers, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

A model walks the runway for the autumn-winter 2023 Valentino show during Paris Fashion Week

The deal is “strategically sound” Stifel analyst Rogerio Fujimori said in a note. “Valentino should be able to leverage Kering’s internal capabilities and expertise to accelerate its development and improve its margins.” Kering shares rose as much as 1.8 per cent in early Paris trading.

Valentino, whose red carpet designs have been worn recently by stars ranging from Zendaya to Florence Pugh, was founded in Italy in 1960 and acquired by Qatar’s Mayhoola for Investments SPC more than a decade ago.

The brand had revenue of €1.4 billion last year and €350 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (repayment of debt through periodic instalments). It has 211 stores in more than 25 countries.

A Kering holding by Mayhoola would mark another prominent French investment for Qatari firms, which have snapped up assets in recent years, including the Paris Saint-Germain football club.

Gucci sales rose just 1 per cent in the second quarter on a comparable basis, the company said Thursday, well behind the 4.2 per cent gain analysts expected.

Kering, which gets two thirds of it profit from the brand, has already shaken up leadership to revive its appeal. Last week, the company announced the impending exit of Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, to be replaced on a temporary basis by Jean-Francois Palus, a trusted lieutenant of CEO Pinault. Kering will start a search for a permanent Gucci CEO from September, Pinault said.

That follows the November exit of creative director Alessandro Michele, whose flamboyant designs had fallen out of favour. Michele was replaced by Sabato de Sarno, a former Valentino designer who is expected to unveil his debut collection in September in Milan.

The agreement with Mayhoola was done “quite fast” and the goal was to sign the deal before the summer, Kering Chief Financial Officer Jean-Marc Duplaix told analysts on a call.