Equinox Investment Company, the Luxembourg-based investment firm backed by a number of major Italian groups including Banca Intesa and Pirelli, has taken a 45 per cent stake in Church’s, the English shoemaking business owned by Italian fashion house Prada.
Financial details for the agreement have not been disclosed, although the deal comes less than four years after Prada agreed to pay £106m for the business. Equinox and Prada confirmed that arrangements for the transaction will be finalised within the next few days, although the price is expected to be lower than Prada paid in 1999.
Church & Co manufactures, wholesales and retail distributes footwear. The firm, one of Britain's oldest shoe manufacturers, has 155 outlets around the world, 102 of which are in the UK. The company maintains retail operations in the UK, North America, France, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Both Prada and Equinox have agreed to provide additional capital to further the company’s expansion in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Patrizio Bertelli, the chief executive of Prada, said the agreement with Equinox “will allow us to execute an important growth plan for one of our most prestigious brands, accompanied by a noteworthy expansion of its product.”
The Church’s sale is the latest in a series of disposals by Prada in an attempt to reduce its debt burden, thought to be in the region of E1bn. The group has also been forced to abandon a number of attempts to float the company following the drying up of IPO markets across the world.