LVMH Makes a Deal: Stroll, Chou Buy 85% Stake in Michael Kors

NEW YORK — Silas Chou and Lawrence Stroll added a second luxury brand to their holdings, having struck a deal to acquire a controlling stake of...

Dana Telsey, retail analyst at Bear, Stearns, said she expects the luxury market to continue to face such pressures over the next year. "I think that LVMH will continue to reevaluate which brands they want to keep [under their umbrella]. It basically will be a cost-benefit analysis for them," she said.

It was Kors, himself, who initiated the contact with Chou and Stroll and then approached his investing partners over the past month with a deal, pitching what he described as a rare opportunity to create an influx of cash to finance future growth of the company and, at the same time, appeal to the varying interests of Orchulli, LVMH and Onward Kashiyama, the licensee for the Kors Michael Kors bridge collection worldwide and the company’s distributor for Japan.

"I hadn’t really been looking to sell the company," Kors said. "The whole thing just happened at the right time. The fact of the matter is that LVMH has been a minority shareholder in my business and was not involved in the day-to-day operations. They didn’t call me up and say, ‘Find someone.’"

Kors and Chou have known one another for more than two decades, since the designer was working with Lyle & Scott, the cashmere knit company, and they met when Chou went to Scotland to look at buying the company, which obviously left a lasting impression on Kors. Chou and Stoll, meanwhile have been hot for another luxury acquisition since buying the formerly combined Asprey & Garrard, having been involved in recent bidding for brands including Valentino, Brooks Brothers and Calvin Klein. Since winding down their involvement in Tommy Hilfiger, what appealed to the duo about Kors was the potential to develop a relatively untapped American brand — currently a $100 million business focused largely on the luxury market — into a much bigger business.

"We regard Michael as a luxury American designer and besides being tremendously talented, he’s young," Chou said, describing the 43-year-old Kors. "This is a great opportunity to team up with him and make him the next great American designer. Michael is unique; not only does he have talent, but good sense also. He’s very balanced between the left brain and the right brain."
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