TowerBrook eyes more luxury goods(2)

UK buyout firm TowerBrook Capital has recruited a new chief executive to run luxury goods retailer Jimmy Choo, allowing former head Robert Bensoussan to explore further acquisitions in the sector alongside the buyout firm.

TowerBrook, a UK-based private equity firm, has recruited an industry veteran to run Jimmy Choo, a luxury goods company it bought in February, as it eyes further acquisitions in the sector alongside former chief executive Robert Bensoussan.

TowerBrook has recruited Joshua Schulman from Kenneth Cole to take over the day-to-day running of the business, best known for its iconic footwear. The firm had agreed to find a new chief executive as part of its £185 million buyout deal in February this year, in order to allow Bensoussan to explore further acquisitions in the sector.

Bensoussan, who according to banking sources already has two potential targets lined up, may partner with TowerBrook on any subsequent deals. It is understood that the buyout firm has all the arrangements in place to provide him with financial backing, although there is no formalised agreement as such.

TowerBrook co-chief executive Ramez Sousou told PEO: “We see a huge amount of growth in the luxury goods retail sector, so we’ll be looking with Robert at opportunities in the US and Europe.”

Bensoussan, who has worked at a number of leading companies in the sector, including Christian Lacroix, Joseph and Lacoste, spoke at the time of the buyout about his “ambition to build a unique portfolio of luxury brands.”

An industry source told PEO that the increasingly fractious relationship between Bensoussan and Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choo’s high-profile president and founder, made it impractical for the two to continue working together.

However, Bensoussan will retain his seat on the Jimmy Choo board. He is understood to have re-invested a substantial sum in TowerBrook’s buyout in February, and remains a significant shareholder.

Schulman, Jimmy Choo’s new chief executive, was most recently president of fashion label Kenneth Cole in New York and previously held senior roles at Yves St Laurent, Gucci and Gap. He is a logical choice for TowerBrook: at Gap, he worked alongside Andrew Rolfe, who was president of the firm’s international division before resigning to join TowerBrook as a managing partner in February this year. Rolfe now sits on the Jimmy Choo board. A source said that as a result, the hiring process took much less time than expected.

Schulman has only just resigned from Kenneth Cole and must now see out his gardening leave.

Jimmy Choo, founded in 1996, is one of the big success stories in the luxury goods sector. Since its foundation in 1996, it has increased revenues to £65 million and now operates more than 60 stores across the world.