These boots are made for delivering a rare investment opportunity into a niche market growing faster than the overall economy...
By Geoffrey Smith
September 23, 2014

Jimmy Choo Ltd, the luxury footwear brand made famous by Princess Diana and a host of Hollywood’s finest, is going public.

The company, founded in 1996, will float “at least 25%” of its equity on the London Stock Exchange in October, according to its owners, investment firm JAB Luxury.

JAB is also the company behind fellow-shoemakers Bally, Coty perfumes and, through a more recent acquisition, Douwe Egberts coffee.

Jimmy Choo’s original owners, the one-time Vogue accessories editor Tamara Mellon and Malaysian-born designer Choo himself, have long been replaced by less glamorous but more financially savvy figures from the luxury goods industry. (Its current chief executive is LVMH veteran Pierre Denis.) But it still has a direct connection to its beginnings in Choo’s niece Sandra Choi, who is now creative director.

Jimmy Choo Plc, as the company will be known in future, now puts its name on everything from purses to fragrances, and cultivates an image of “London cool and Italian craftsmanship.” Its growth would be better described as steady, or maturing, rather than stellar, with revenues up 6.1% and 7.7% in the last two years, respectively (and a dip to only 2.2% in the first half of this year). In a kinder measure, they grew at an average rate of 22% in the four years after the crisis year of 2008.

The company doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to juice that growth rate: there’ll be no new shares issued to finance expansion, just old ones sold by JAB to take some of its own money off the table and put a proper valuation on its investment (market talk is of a valuation of around 650-700 million pounds, or 13-14 times basic operating earnings.)

But there’ll be no dividend in the near term, as the company intends to focus on reducing leverage. A spokesman declined to say how much debt the company is carrying but said it can comfortably be paid down by current cash flows.

The company also wants to complete investments in its supply chain, e-commerce platform and a steady stream of new store openings. The last of those will see it put more emphasis on Asia and “selected new markets”. Specifically, it wants to triple the number of its Chinese stores to 30 “in the medium term”.

It has hired BofA Merrill Lynch to run the offering, with Asia-focused HSBC and Frankfurt-based boutique bank BHF as joint bookrunner and co-lead manager, respectively.

A spokesman for the company said that the IPO will present a pretty rare opportunity to get exposure to the luxury sector that is dominated by a handful of familiar names such as LVMH (LVMHF) and Burberry Plc (BURBY).






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