Europe News

Jimmy Choo Takes Steps to Possible IPO

Martin Arnold, Financial Times

The private equity owner of Jimmy Choo plans to appoint investment banks to advise on strategic options for the maker of stilettos for the stars, including a possible initial public offering valuing the company at about £500m ($773m).

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the frontrunners to become advisers to Jimmy Choo, which was bought in 2007 for £180m by Towerbrook Capital, the private equity group that was once part of financier George Soros’s empire.

Towerbrook, which last week emerged as a surprise bidder for care home operator Southern Cross, declined to comment.

However, people familiar with the private equity group said it was considering all options, including an IPO in the UK, the US or Asia.

Towerbrook has been encouraged by a string of successful recent flotations, including the £395m listing by fashion retailer Supergroup and the HK$5.5bn (£458m) share sale by French cosmetics group L’Occitane in Hong Kong.

Other options being considered include a sale to another private equity group or for Towerbrook to keep the company for a couple more years and invest in more stores, particularly in the fast-growing Asian market.

Any sale or flotation was not expected to happen until next year, the people said.

Under its three private equity owners—Jimmy Choo was bought for £18m by Phoenix Equity Partners in 2001 and sold later to Lion Capital for £101m—the company has expanded around the world and diversified into handbags and sunglasses.

It has more than 110 stores in 32 countries, including recent openings in Singapore, Dubai, Sydney and Macao. Sales have grown 30 per cent a year on average since 2001.

Jimmy Choo’s eponymous Malaysian-born founder is no longer involved with the company, having cashed out with the Phoenix buy-out.

But Tamara Mellon, who helped establish and expand the company from its humble origins as a Hackney cobbler’s workshop, still owns a 17 per cent stake and is president.

The company’s shoes, costing as much as £1,800 a pair, have become a favourite of Hollywood celebrities, being worn by the stars of Sex in the City, actress Julia Roberts and singer Beyoncé.