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Now on sale: Jimmy Choo (the whole company)

Shoemaker with market value of more than £700m says surprise decision to sell up followed board review of strategic options.

The luxury shoe and bag retailer Jimmy Choo has put itself up for sale in a move that took the market by surprise. The retailer said it had “decided to conduct a review of the various strategic options open to the company to maximise value for its shareholders” and that it was seeking offers for the business. The move was backed by the company’s independent directors and JAB Luxury, its majority shareholder with a stake of 68%. Shares in Jimmy Choo jumped 10% to a record high of 186.25p on the news, valuing the group at more than £720m. The company floated on the stock market in 2014 at a price of 140p a share, valuing it at about £550m.

Any sale is expected to attract interest from strategic American buyers as well as Middle Eastern, Chinese and Russian bidders. The company was founded in London in 1996 by the Malaysian fashion designer Jimmy Choo and the then Vogue accessories editor Tamara Mellon. It runs 150 stores around the world, opening 10 last year as well as refitting 16 shops. It recently reported operating profits of £42.5m for 2016, up nearly 43%, after success with luxury trainers. Men’s shoes remain its fastest-growing category and account for 9% of revenue. The company has benefited from the drop in sterling since the EU referendum and is expanding in China. It has fared better than other luxury retailers such as Burberry, which were hit by Chinese tourists cutting back on luxury purchases.

JAB, an investment company owned by Germany’s billionaire Reimann family, wants to sell its stake in the shoes group to focus on food and other consumer goods. The family, one of Europe’s wealthiest business dynasties, has been building an empire of coffee brands and last year added Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to its portfolio. It also owns the US cosmetics brand Coty. Luxury investments make up less than 10% of JAB’s portfolio, and it plans to use the sale proceeds to take on the likes of Nestlé. A Euromonitor analyst said: “Globally, retail sales of men’s designer footwear have grown marginally faster than women’s designer footwear over the last three years. So it is easy to see why Jimmy Choo has expanded into this male segment. Women’s luxury footwear still generates almost twice the retail value of men’s luxury footwear, though, and that disparity is unlikely to narrow significantly over the next decade.

“But Jimmy Choo needs to be careful not to get ahead of itself. Remember what happened to Mulberry, another niche British luxury brand, when it drifted too far from its comfort zone? One year sales were soaring, the next they were dropping amidst a spate of profit warnings.”

The Guardian

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