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Labelex Buys Belstaff

Godfrey Deeny
June 10th, 2011 @ 00:01 AM - Paris

One month Labelex buys shoes for the ladies, the next it picks up biker jackets for the boys, especially Hollywood stars.

Labelux Group, the Swiss-based luxury goods fund controlled by Germany's billionaire Reimann family, has acquired Belstaff, the Italian motorbike and outerwear specialist, from Clothing Company, a company controlled by Manuele Malenotti, the brand's CEO.

Terms of the deal, which had been rumored for several weeks, were not disclosed, but according to financial reports in Continental financial dailies, the deal valued Belstaff at 110 million euros, or $158 million.

Belstaff has long had links to cinema, notably when it was commissioned in 2005 to create the jacket worn by Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Aviator," creating a fashionable best seller overnight. Its jackets have also appeared in such major league films such as "Batman Begins," "The Interpreter," "Ocean's Twelve," "War of the Worlds," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Sweeney Todd."

The acquisition comes just one month after Labelux snapped up U.K. shoe brand Jimmy Choo. This new deal to buy Belstaff, announced Thursday, June 9, means that Labelex now controls a major luxury portfolio also comprising such names brands Bally, Derek Lam, Solange Azagury-Partridge and accessories company Zagliani.

Belstaff boasts a chain of 14 owned boutiques as well as retailing in more than 1,000 points of sale worldwide. Belstaff scored a 10-percent increase in 2010 sales to some 80 million euros, or $117 million.

"Belstaff is a unique asset with great heritage, a strong following and a very promising future as a major international luxury brand," Labelux CEO Reinhard Mieck said in the release.

Belstaff was founded in Stoke–on-Trent, Britain in 1924 as a manufacturer of motorcycle jackets, and only began to grow quickly after Italian entrepreneur Franco Malenotti, father of Manuele, acquired the brand in 1986.

In 2008, Belstaff called off an initial public offering due to weak market conditions, and the company was known to be looking for a strategic investor this past year, especially as recent retail expansion had saddled it with debts of some 40 million euros, or $57 million.

The brand's jackets have appeared in almost 100 movies; and in its most recent coup, Malenotti even took a roll alongside Johnny Depp and Keith Richards in the Hollywood blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." But this week's deal represents the entrepreneur's largest bag of swag.

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