financial
financial

Darel Seeking Investor to Fuel Expansion

Gérard Darel is embarking on a new growth phase — and seeking a strategic partner to fund the brand's international expansion.

PARIS — Gérard Darel is embarking on a new growth phase — and seeking a strategic partner to fund the brand's international expansion.

The Paris-based fashion firm said it has engaged Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild to explore the possibility of a new financial investor in order to accelerate its growth abroad, with the focus on the U.S. market.

"We are accelerating the brand's international strategy. We are exploring the best options for development," said Laurent Gerbi Darel, the firm's general manager and son of the brand's founders, Danièle and Gérard Darel.

Gérard Darel logged a 12 percent increase in sales to 158 million euros, or $216 million at average exchange rates, in 2007 following the success of its "24-hour" bag and its ad campaign, which featured French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The accessories category, which first launched in 2004, today represents 10 percent of group sales and boasts a double-digit annual growth rate. The Midday Midnight bag for around $750 made its debut this spring, gracing the shoulders of stars including Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan and Halle Barry. New York's Bergdorf Goodman as well as Rumor in Los Angeles will feature Gérard Darel's accessories line next fall.

Despite selling in 40 countries, including England, Spain, Italy and Belgium via 140 fully owned stores and shops-in-shops, only 30 percent of the company's total revenues occurred outside of France.

Laurent Darel believes there is a significant opportunity to tap other markets — particularly the United States. "A local infrastructure is necessary for success," Darel said. "It is said that retail is detail but for the detail you need to be local, present on a daily basis in order in insure brand success.

"We are looking for an outside source to bring added value to the brand, not just financial investment but also a strategic outlook and savoir faire to accelerate and consolidate our success abroad," continued Darel.

Darel has mapped out a self-financed investment plan of 30 million euros, or about $45 million, over the next three years. "We have a detailed plan with our own investment; however, we believe the faster we go, especially in a difficult economic environment, the better the success of the brand."
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