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Lanvin Finds Minority Investor

Godfrey Deeny
November 18th, 2009 @ 00:41 AM - Paris

Lanvin’s long search for a backer has finally ended, but the Paris fashion house is refusing to say who it is.

The Paris-based business issued a release Wednesday morning announcing that it had received a significant cash injection, but did not reveal the name of the investor, nor the sums involved nor the value the deal placed on the fashion house.

“The Lanvin group has received an injection of capital from an investor with a long term perspective, through its parent company Arpege SAS,” the Lanvin release read.

The house had been actively looking for a minority partner for several years. Lanvin’s main shareholder is Chinese publishing magnate Shaw-Lan Wang, who acquired control through the holding company Arpege in August 2001.

Sources indicated that the deal valued Lanvin at over 200 million euros, or $299 million, meaning the cash injection is of the order of 25 million euros, or $37.4 million.

In 2008, Lanvin rose 30 percent to 140 million euros, or $210 million at current exchange rates, compared with 2007 sales of 108 million euros, or $161 million.

Under the creative direction of Alber Elbaz, Lanvin has been a critical and commercial hit whose runway shows are among the half dozen most awaited in fashion and whose editorial support, cool actress clientele and general buzz are second to none. Since being appointed creative director at Lanvin in 2001, Elbaz has re-invented a sleepy couture house living on past memories into the must-have destination collection for actresses.

One year ago, Qatar's royal family was close to buying into Lanvin, as the Gulf state’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, was keen to enter the luxury industry with a major play. Forbes magazine ranks Sheikh Hamad at number seven on its list of the world's richest royals with a fortune of $2 billion. However, these talks eventually fizzled out.

Finding any new investor has proved tricky since Wang is understood not to have been prepared to consider selling control of Lanvin, a house to which she feels particularly close. Wang is always the first person to rush backstage to congratulate Elbaz after every show.

“The minority investment represents 12.5 percent of the capital of Arpege and will contribute to the continued success of Lanvin’s global expansion,” the house’s statement continued.

Expect Lanvin to use the capital injection to fund the expansion of its retail network.

Lanvin boasts 19 company-owned boutiques and some 20 franchises. It recently opened a U.K. flagship on London’s Mount Street, and has been steadily developing its men’s wear. Since its launch in 2006, the men’s collection, jointly realized by Elbaz and menswear designer Lucas Ossendrijver, has been enormously influential.

The house dates its birth to 1889 when Jeanne Lanvin, then aged 22, arrived as a milliner at 22 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, the location of its current Paris flagship.

In 1926, Lanvin was awarded the distinction Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, one of the first couturiers to be so recognized. Eighty years later, Elbaz completed the circle when France’s Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu pinned the same medal to his shoulders in the Palais Royal.

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