Fung Brands

Things are heating up on the luxury front. Yesterday I was talking to Ulrik Garde Due, chief executive of Danish silver brand Georg Jensen, and he acknowledged that the recent stories about brand’s private equity owners, Axcel, considering their exit strategy after 11 years were true. They have hired Rothschilds as advisors, and started meeting with potential buyers. Meanwhile, Smythson has just lured Andy Janowski, Burberry’s former COO and Senior Vice-President of Supply Chain (now, that’s a sexy title), over to their side to mastermind the brand’s expansion. Get ready: the heritage accessories brands are on the move!
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Much hair-pulling and hand-wringing has gone on in the last few years over the migration of manufacturing jobs from Western nations to Asia, where costs are lower — exemplified in part in the Obama administration’s current “Made in America” campaign — but a piece today in the FT suggests that, when it comes to luxury and Europe at least, the equation may be about to reverse.

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Nathalie Rykiel (left) with designer April Crichton at Sonia Rykiel show. AFP/Getty Images

Nathalie Rykiel (left) with designer April Crichton at Sonia Rykiel show. AFP/Getty Images

Fung Brands Ltd just announced they were in exclusive negotiations to buy 80 per cent of French fashion house Sonia Rykiel, for an undisclosed price. Interesting.

This will be Fung Brands‘ first ready-to-wear acquisition since it was formed last year with Jean-Marc Loubier, latterly of LVMH and Celine, as chief executive. They’ve been moving pretty quickly, having already also bought French shoe brand Robert Clergerie, and Belgian luxury handbag house Delvaux. (Fung Brands is the subsidiary of Fung Capital, the private investment arm of the Fung family, which also owns the Asian manufacturing powerhouse Li & Fung).

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Is it a tongue twister? No, it’s an acquisition. Sometimes during fashion week it’s what happens when you aren’t looking that’s most interesting.

Fung Brands Limited, the private luxury investment arm of Fung Capital Europe, has bought Delvaux, the Belgium equivalent of Hermes. This follows Fung Brands April purchase of Robert Clergerie, the famous French shoe maker that had almost faded from view.

In other words: since Fung Capital is owned by the Fung family of Hong Kong (aka the Asian retail and distribution powerhouse that owns Li & Fung), the prophesy that western luxury brands will go east, not just for consumers but corporate owners, has once again come true.

The choice of Delvaux is both smart and telling — the latter because it marks a new approach to making east meet west when it comes to luxury. Read more