Card Sounds Off on Kurt Geiger Deal

Card Sounds Off on Kurt Geiger
Wesley Card and Neil Clifford

The Jones Group and Kurt Geiger are forming a new global footwear powerhouse.
 
Jones bought the London-based company Wednesday from private equity firm Graphite Capital for about $350 million, including debt. Kurt Geiger boasts an expansive international retail network and strong position in the high-end market, both attractive selling points for Jones.
 
The two companies have been partners since 2009, when Kurt Geiger began distributing Nine West in the U.K. and Irish markets — and that relationship paved the way for the new deal.
 
“I met Neil about 18 months ago when we partnered on Nine West and [started to understand] the scope of the business,” Jones CEO Wesley Card told Footwear News on Wednesday. “We started a dialogue, and I knew they were owned by private equity, so I said let’s see if we can get a deal done. It’s a great partnership.”
 
Kurt Geiger CEO Neil Clifford and his team, including buying and creative director Rebecca Farrar Hockley, will continue to head the Kurt Geiger business, which will now serve as Jones’ hub in Europe.
 
Kurt Geiger has already moved quickly to grow Nine West in the U.K. market and plans to open three new stores in the next three months, along with a dedicated branded Website that will mirror the label’s U.S. site.
 
The new team will work together to expand the presence of the company’s other brands across Europe as well.
 
Kurt Geiger already has significant ties to key department stores in the region and operates 156 multi-branded footwear concessions in major retailers such as Harrods, Selfridges, House of Fraser and La Rinascente. It also owns a stable of brands including Kurt Geiger, Carvela and KG, among others, and has 49 company-operated stores.
 
“[Together], our group of footwear and accessories brands could now be the largest collection in the world,” Card said.
 
The deal will also pave the way for Kurt Geiger to bring its portfolio into the U.S. market, which has been a goal for the firm for the past several years.
 
“We wanted to find a long-term partner to take our brand to America, and it had been in the too-difficult pile for too long,” Clifford said. “Now we have the right partner who believes in our vision and will help us take our ambition globally.”
 
Card added that many stateside department stores have already expressed interest in stocking Kurt Geiger’s brands. Branded retail locations could be part of the plan as well.
 
Looking ahead, the executives did not rule out further buys at Jones, which has significantly upped its presence in the footwear space over the past several years. Last year, the company acquired Stuart Weitzman and is rolling out a new line with Brian Atwood for fall.
 
“We continue to look at acquisitions, and Neil has already advised us about some brands [that are in play],” Card said.
 
The transaction is expected to immediately be accretive to earnings per share, exclusive of any required purchase accounting adjustments.

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