Michael Kors snaps up Italy’s Versace — sources

In this Friday, Sept. 21, 2018 file photo, Donatella Versace comes on the catwalk at the end of Versace's women's 2019 Spring-Summer collection, unveiled during the Fashion Week in Milan, Italy. An Italian newspaper report says that the Versace group is on the verge of announcing its sale to Michael Kors. (AP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Michael Kors snaps up Italy’s Versace — sources

  • Donatella Versace called staff meeting for Tuesday - source
  • Family to retain a role, Blackstone will fully exit - sources

LONDON: US fashion group Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. has agreed to take control of Italy’s Versace in a deal that could value the company at $2 billion, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The deal comes as budding luxury conglomerates, including Michael Kors’ US rival Tapestry, owner of Coach and Kate Spade, are trying to make in-roads into an industry still dominated by major European players, including Louis Vuitton owner LVMH.
Michael Kors, whose namesake label is best known for its leather handbags, has made no secret of its ambition to grow its portfolio of high-end brands after swooping on British stiletto-heel maker Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion last year.
Versace is one of a clutch of family-owned, independent Italian brands that have regularly been cited as attractive targets at a time when the luxury industry is riding high on strong demand from Chinese consumers.
But not all brands have benefited equally, with some struggling to refresh their image or products to capture a younger audience, and some fashion groups are looking to diversify with more labels to face such challenges.
The deal gives Michael Kors a mega-brand and red carpet favorite that is among the most recognizable and followed fashion labels in the world. Two of the three sources who spoke to Reuters said the company had agreed to pay a large premium for Versace, known for its Medusa head logo.
Michael Kors could not immediately be reached for comment. Versace declined to comment.
Donatella Versace, sister of late founder Gianni who doubles as artistic director and vice president of the Milan-based group, has called a staff meeting for Tuesday, according to a person who was briefed by a company employee.
The Italian fashion icon has been considering a market listing after US private equity group Blackstone bought a 20 percent stake back in 2014 to fund overseas expansion, although Chief Executive Jonathan Akeroyd told Reuters earlier this year there was no rush for a market debut.
After investing in Versace at a high multiple, Blackstone found the fashion group’s performance disappointing and not sufficient to justify a market listing, said one of the sources, who is close to the family.
“They gradually persuaded the family to look into a possible sale and introduced them to a series of buyers, including Michael Kors,” the person added.
“Blackstone wasn’t going to put any more money into it. They needed a buyer who could make heavy investments.”
“OVERPRICED“
French fashion houses including Paris-based Kering were among those holding talks with the Versace family, the sources said, but considered the price too expensive.
“They didn’t feel the need to invest so much money into another Italian fashion brand. It was overpriced,” the source said.
Kering declined to comment.
As part of the deal, Blackstone will fully exit the Italian company, while the Versace family, which owns the rest of the fashion house, will keep a role, the sources said.
Blackstone declined to comment.
An official announcement is expected this week, the sources said.
Versace does not disclose its financial details, but documents deposited with the Italian chamber of commerce show the Milan-based group last year posted sales of 668 million euros ($786 million) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and appreciation (EBITDA) of 44.6 million euros.
The group last year returned to a net profit of just under 15 million euros compared with a net loss of 7.9 million euros the previous year. ($1 = 0.8499 euros)


Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

Updated 15 February 2019
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Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

  • The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds
  • His family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata, India

KARACHI: It is probably safe to say that tailor to the stars Sarfraz Akbar has the market for celebrity clients all sewn up.

The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds through his reputation for making high-quality garments.

And now Akbar, who works for his family business at shops in an affluent neighborhood of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, can add a former American president to his star-studded client base.

During a trip to the US in July last year, he was invited by an American-Pakistani friend to meet with George W. Bush.

“I was super-excited when along with my wife and daughters we boarded my friend’s private jet and flew from Houston to Dallas,” Akbar told Arab News.

After taking measurements of the former US president, he returned to Pakistan and made several suits for him, before dispatching them to Dallas in December 2018.

“My happiness doubled when I got a call from the US informing me that the former president had appreciated my work after wearing the suits,” Akbar said.

Akbar’s father Mohammed said his son had built up a distinguished list of Pakistani personalities he has worked for. 

“By earning praise from George W. Bush, my son has not only made me proud but it’s also a matter of pride for all Pakistanis.”

The youngest of three brothers, Akbar has brought fame to the family name and business, his father added.

The family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata. The family moved from the Indian city after the inception of Pakistan.

The business now has two shops under the “Ambassador” brand name in the Zamzama district of Karachi. 

“We could have opened dozens of outlets, but we believe in quality. The materials we use are imported and we focus on precision,” said Akbar. 

“It’s handmade, customized work. We don’t sell readymade stuff.

“However, we’re now getting people coming to us from other cities wanting to have their wardrobes from the tailor of George W. Bush. Some clients even ask to have their photos taken with me.”

Akbar said he has always had big ambitions. Following matriculation in 1999, he continued his studies but opted at the same time to focus on the family business with a view to taking it to new heights after his graduation.

When the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan during 2005-2006, Akbar made clothes for all the Indian players. 

“Almost all the Pakistani players including Wasim Akram, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed and Shahid Afridi — the latter being a regular customer – have worn our wardrobes too,” Akbar said.

He also designed kurta shalwar clothing for West Indian player and Peshawar Zalmi skipper, Darren Sammy, during the last season of the Pakistan Super League.

Akbar also has a long list of political clients including Pakistan’s former leader Pervez Musharraf, incumbent President Dr. Arif Alvi, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Sindh Gov. Imran Ismail. “I made a waistcoat for Imran Khan after he was sworn in as the premier of Pakistan,” he said.

Summing up his achievements to date, Akbar said: “You can be proud of yourself and your family, but you just need to focus on your work and work hard.”