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Equinox dons Jimmy Choo

The new private equity firm, backed by Phoenix Equity Partners, marks its first investment with the purchase of the fashion designer's ready to wear shoe business.

For its first venture, Equinox Luxury Holdings (Equinox) will be wearing Jimmy Choo this season following the purchase of 50 per cent of the fashion label.

Equinox, backed by private equity group Phoenix Equity Partners and Robert Bensoussan, a fashion and luxury goods entrepreneur, is also injecting new capital into the ready to wear shoe business and has bought back a US license from financial investors.

The capital raised from the deal, which values the business at around £21m, will be used to open another 25 international stores over the next five years and double the group’s wholesale business.

Bensoussan will work with Tamara Mellon, president of the Jimmy Choo ready to wear business, in achieving the group’s ambitions, which also includes launching additional products such as handbags, said David Burns, a director at Phoenix Equity Partners.

Equinox was formed, added Burns, “because we [Phoenix and Bensoussan] decided there were a number of family-run businesses out there looking to supplement their finances and management, but not at the risk of losing control to a large corporate,” he said.

The group is working on a number of similar deals it hopes to make over the next three to four years. “We are currently looking at making deals larger than Jimmy Choo, at the high-end of the European brand goods market,” said Burns.

Equinox will have Phoenix’s £370m coffers at it disposal, which “the group is keen to put to work,” he added.

Phoenix is a privately owned equity fund, which manages four funds with capital of more than £500m. The group bought itself out of Credit Suisse First Boston earlier this year giving its management time to “focus on the group’s investments, deal flow and the mid-market,” said Burns.

To date, the group has invested in 75 MBOs, MBIs and cash injections totalling £4bn. According to the firm, 62 of these investments have been realised to date with an average IRR of around 40 per cent.