Kitson Hangs Up For-Sale Sign

LOS ANGELES — After building Kitson into a well-known celebrity haunt, Fraser Ross is ready to sell a majority stake in the firm.

In an exclusive interview with Footwear News, the store’s owner said that with the opening of his 10th door next month in the newly renovated Santa Monica Place, he has realized that the time has come to bring in outside money for future expansion.

“It just came about in the last six weeks,” said Ross. “I’m at the level where I’m going to get sold. I can’t do more than 10 stores. I don’t know of another company my size that is self-financed at this level. It’s kind of unheard of. It’s a lot of pressure.”

Ross said that while he has not advertised his company as being on the market, he has already received interest from numerous sources, including domestic firms and Asian conglomerates.

He also has received offers from companies interested in taking the 10-year-old Kitson concept to India, Australia and across Asia.

“It’s going to happen quick,” Ross said. “People have been looking at my books. It could happen by the end of the year.”

Kitson closed out 2009 up 30 percent in sales, despite the troubled economy, and should be up another 30 percent in 2010.

Ross declined to disclose his asking price, but he said prospective buyers have not balked at the number. “I’ve given the figure to people, and it’s fair,” he said. “My potential for growth is huge. Could it [become] a $1 billion company? Yeah, I think it could.”

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