Business / Companies

Shandong Ruyi bids for French fashion group

By Wang Zhuoqiong in Beijing and Ju Chuanjiang in Shandong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-23 08:08

Textile producer Shandong Ruyi Group is believed to be in takeover talks with SMCP SAS, the owner of French fashion brands Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, according to media reports in Hong Kong.

Bloomberg said the clothing group could be worth more than $1 billion in the sale.

Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts acquired a majority stake of SMCP in June 2013, and is reported to have engaged banks last year to consider strategic options, including the sale of its stake.

Demand remains strong in China for affordable luxury labels like SMCP's three brands, fueled by the country's growing middle class.

With more than 1,000 stores in 34 countries, SMCP is adding shops in Hong Kong and seeking opportunities to expand in the Chinese mainland, CEO Daniel Lalonde said last year.

In the first half of 2015, it added 12 outlets in Asia, where it has stores in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

Sales over the same period were up 32 percent on the same period in 2014, reaching 316 million euros ($344 million). Onlines sales doubled.

KKR, Lion Capital and Shandong Ruyi were not available for comments on the possible takeover.

KKR bought its 65 percent of SMCP from L Capital, a private equity firm backed by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Lion Capital is a UK private equity firm focused on consumer investments, and includes British fashion retailer AllSaints.

Based in eastern China, Shandong Ruyi has annual sales of more than 30 billion yuan ($4.6 billion), according to its website.

It has invested in clothing companies including Tokyo-based Renown Inc, which sells the Aquascutum and D'urban brands in Japan.

Matthew Crabbe, APAC research director at Mintel Group Ltd, said there is a continuing trend toward Chinese consumers trading-up from mass market, to middle market, fast-fashion brands.

"As their incomes have continued to rise, it was therefore inevitable that their attention would continue to shift upward, more toward the light luxury segment," said Crabbe.

Zhao Ruixue contributed to this story.

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