Anne Klein Finds an Owner in New Brand Management Firm

Anne Klein has found a new owner in the recently launched brand management platform WHP Global.

The newly formed firm, led by chairman and CEO Yehuda Shmidman, announced today its first acquisition, snapping up the fashion label from former Nine West parent Premier Brands Group for an undisclosed sum.

As part of WHP, Anne Klein will focus on ramping up growth with retail partners, including department store chain Macy’s, as well as developing new categories and expanding internationally. (Anne Klein’s products are also distributed by Steve Madden for shoes and bags, Kasper Group for activewear and E. Gluck for watches.)

“With its extensive heritage and strong sales base, Anne Klein is the perfect brand to kick off the WHP portfolio,” said Ted Crockin, member of the firm’s board of directors and VP at Oaktree Capital Management LP, which is backing WHP with a $200 million equity commitment.

WHP also intends to boost Anne Klein’s marketing, social media and e-commerce operations. In a statement, Premier Brands Group CEO Ralph Schipani said that the brand “is in good hands, and we are excited to continue our involvement as a long-term licensee for multiple categories including sportswear and jewelry.”

In the announcement, WHP shared plans to invest up to $1 billion in consumer brands over the next five years. Shmidman — who founded advisory firm Wave Hill Partners and serves as vice chairman for Toys ‘R’ Us parent Tru Kids Inc. — has previously raised and infused nearly $2 billion into fashion, home, entertainment and other consumer brands.

“The seismic changes in the retail industry have created a unique opportunity for us to form a fresh platform,” Shmidman said. “Together with the strength of Oaktree, we have the pipeline, team and capital to leverage this opportunity and scale.”

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