THE LATEST INVESTMENTS: ASTON MARTIN, FABERGE & CHRISTOPHER KANE

5542_aston_medium

Orient Express turns down a $1.8 billion takeover bid from Indian Hotels Group, as mining company Gemfields seeks to acquire fine jeweller Fabergé for $142 million.

Acquired: Fabergé, Gemfields

Gemfields, pending minority investor approval, is to buy luxury jeweler Faberge from one of the colored gem miner’s own shareholders, in a deal valuing the fine jeweller at $142 million. The all-share deal will create an integrated company that mines colored stones and uses the Faberge brand to promote their use in jewelery.

Source: Reuters
Speculation: Sale, Aston Martin

Investment Dar Co., owner of Aston Martin, is said to be in “advanced” talks to sell new shares to investors to boost funding for future development. The Kuwaiti based investment group has received competing bids from Investindustrial and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (MM) for 50% of voting rights and a 40% equity stake.

Source: Bloomberg
Rejected: Takeover Bid, Orient-Express

Orient-Express has rejected an unsolicited $1.2 billion takeover offer from Tata Group’s Indian Hotels Co Ltd and a fund controlled by Italy’s Montezemolo & Partners. The unsolicited bid was 43% higher than Orient-Express’s 20-day average price, a record premium for the industry, and valued the company at the highest earnings multiple in six years for a hotel takeover.

Source: Reuters, WSJ
Acquired: Investcorp, Georg Jensen

Bahrain-based alternative asset manager, Investcorp, has purchased Danish luxury retailer Georg Jensen for $140 million. Hazem Ben-Gacem, Investcorp’s European private equity head, will co-chair Georg Jensen, as saying Investcorp planned to expand the Danish brand in Asia, particularly China.

Source: Reuters
Speculation: PPR, Christopher Kane

PPR, helmed by Francois-Henri Pinault, is said to be in discussions with Christopher Kane, to invest in his eponymous brand. The company is believed to have held discussions with Christopher Kane in which financial backing has been offered. Nothing has yet been confirmed and representatives for PPR and Kane were unavailable for comment.

Source: Vogue UK
Acquired: Vionnet, Goga Ashkenazi

Kazakh oil billionaire Goga Ashkenazi has acquired all outstanding shares in Vionnet to become its sole owner. Ms. Ashkenazi bought into Vionnet in May 2012, but has since purchased all remaining shares from past owners Matteo Marzotto and Marni CEO Gianni Castiglioni.

Source: Elle UK
Boughtback: Derek Lam, Labelux

In a bid to refocus on luxury leather goods and shoes, Labelux has sold Derek Lam back to its founders, Lam and CEO Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann. “We have taken a strategic decision to refocus our activity on luxury leather goods and shoes,” explained CEO Reinhard Mieck said. “We wish Derek and Jan well as we return the leadership into their capable hands.”

Source: Fashionista
Invested: Damiani, India

Damiani is the first foreign investor to get the government approval to invest in the jewellery monobrand retail in India, after working with the Indian government to acquire 51% of Damiani India Pvt Ltd, the company managing the Damiani store in New Delhi at the Oberoi Hotel. Damiani will then agree to establish a joint venture with Indian partners.

Source: Damiani
Confirmed: Karl Lagerfeld, Inter Parfums

Karl Lagerfeld has signed a 20 year worldwide license agreement with Inter Parfums, to create and distribute perfumes under the German fashion designer’s namesake brand. Karl Lagerfeld has since ended its deal with fragrance and cosmetics company Coty BV.

Source: Reuters
Sold: Plaza Hotel, Subrata Roy

Indian billionaire Subrata Roy has purchased a 75% stake in New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel for $575m from US-Israeli retailer El Ad. The remaining 25% of the hotel is being retained by its current owner, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, via his Kingdom Holding group.

Source: BBC
Rejected: Four Seasons Hotel NYC, Asian Buyer

Four Seasons Hotel New York owner H. Ty Warner has decided not to sell the Manhattan property after receiving an unsolicited bid of about $900 million. “Due to the continued strength in the New York real estate market and impending fiscal cliff, he does not feel that this is an advantageous time to sell this iconic property,” explained Donna Snopek, chief financial officer of Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts LLC.

Source: Bloomberg
Invested: DiamondCorp, Laurelton Diamonds

Laurelton Diamonds Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tiffany & Co., has issued a $6 million term loan to DiamondCorp plc, a South African diamond development and exploration company listed on London’s AIM stock exchange. As part of the loan agreement, Laurelton Diamonds will have the right to purchase production from DiamondCorp’s Lace Mine in South Africa.

Source: WWD
Stake: Luxottica, Salmoiraghi & Viganò

Salmoiraghi & Viganò, a leading Italian company in the eyewear retail sector, has received approximately €45 million from eyewear manufacturer Luxottica. Luxottica will subscribe for newly issued shares of Salmoiraghi & Viganò resulting in a 36% equity stake in the Italian optical retailer, which will retain control of company operations.

Source: 4Traders
Acquired: Four Seasons Toronto, Saudi Prince Walid

Billionaire Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding investment group has purchased the luxury hotel Four Seasons Toronto, Canada for $200 million. “The transaction was funded by a $130 million mortgage loan while $70 million came from (the company’s) own resources,” Hazem al-Dosari, a Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) spokesman, told AFP.

Source: Al Arabiya
Sold: Ekati Diamond Mine, BHP

Diamond company Harry Winston agreed to purchase BHP Billiton’s Ekati mine in Canada and its marketing operations for the precious stones for $500 million. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, according to BHP.

Source: The Israeli Diamond Industry
Invested: Aeffe, Emanuel Ungaro

Aeffe has signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Emanuel Ungaro for the production and worldwide distribution of women’s clothing and accessories, as well as the option to acquire a significant minority share of Ungaro’s capital stock on achieving shared goals. The license will be active for a period of 7 years, with the option to renew.

Source: Aeffe

For more in the series of The Latest Investments, please see our most recent editions as follows:

The Latest Investments: Chanel, Marcolin & Orient Express
The Latest Investments: Anya Hindmarch, Berluti & Harry Winston
The Latest Investments: Coty, Porsche & Valentino


© Luxury Society, The Latest Investments: Aston Martin, Fabergé & Christopher Kane, 30 November 2012, by Sophie Doran.


Live the life!

Advertisements

LUXURY, FULLY CUSTOMISABLE IN 2012

 

4542_Coach_YOTD_medium

Coach’s Year of the Dragon collection, developed in collaboration with Chinese artist Zhang Lan.

As luxury consumers become more diverse and discerning, we investigate how brands are approaching an increasingly fragmented international market.

I would be happy to argue that luxury has become one of the most globalised industries in the world. Rapid and aggressive expansion by super brands like Louis Vuitton, Rolls Royce, Rolex and Four Seasons, backed by powerful super conglomerates like LVMH, Richemont and PPR, has seen luxury permeate areas of the earth once better known for human rights conflicts than seven-star hotels.

At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, luxury has never been bigger – nor has it ever had larger levels of retailers, consumers, publicity and services. As the game moves at a breakneck pace, success in this industry has become driven by Darwinian thinking, where brands must quite literally, adapt or die.

Whether it be conforming to the consumer driven digital revolution, selling goods on the internet or responding to the need for personalisation of iconic products, it has been those brands quickest to embrace change that have remained the most agile and best positioned to absorb the effects of economic instability.


“ For me bespoke is exactly what luxury should be. Old-fashioned luxury is about having something especially made for you – Anya Hindmarch ”


Difficult when you consider that luxury is unique, in that the customer and the Maison are always right. Keeping a brand “luxury” is just as much about dictating what that brand is and what it stands for, as much as it is about bending over backwards to give a client what they want. But in saying this, in 2012 it feels like the pendulum of favour may be swinging toward consumers. Brands seem to have conceded the need to deliver outside their traditional value charter – whether that is a Facebook page or Hermès Sari.

The fruits of such logic are ever apparent when one looks at the products luxury brands will be taking with them into 2012 – products that are not only regionally and culturally thoughtful, but often made-to-order and sometimes designed entirely by the customer. Whilst 2011 was an active year for the launch of bespoke initiatives for brands, I can’t help but think it was just a taste of what’s to come. Vanessa Friedman often muses that three times makes a trend – if that is the case, expect to see a veritable avalanche of bespoke
options in the coming twelve months.

4544_Anya_H_medium

Anya Hindmarch and an example of a made-to-order product from her Bespoke boutique.

Mass Customisation

Customisation is nothing new – it is if anything, a founding principle of luxury – but it certainly is something incredibly popular in fashion and accessories. And in an era where luxury has penetrated the mass market and something afforded by the middle class, what could be more appropriate? The only thing more luxurious than a signature Burberry trench, is a signature Burberry trench made entirely to your specifications, which technology has now made a reality on a global scale.

Burberry’s Bespoke service allows clients to choose fabrics, patterns, designs, cuts and even colours. In addition, they can to scroll through various options in collar styles, cuff straps and mink linings, among others. The completed product is be delivered within four to eight weeks.


“ In an era where luxury has penetrated the mass market and become a status symbol of the middle class, what could be more appropriate? ”


UK accessories brand Anya Hindmarch, established a dedicated bespoke retail space in London over two years ago, most recently launching online. Speaking with The Telegraph, the designer mused that “old-fashioned luxury is about having something especially made for you. It’s something that has a story.” Her Knightsbridge boutique has an on-site craftsman, developing an array of leather goods as diverse as £75 bookmarks, through made-to-measure wallets, to Hindmarch’s £15,000 crocodile-leather Ebury bags.

And as luxury menswear becomes more and more important to the landscape, it is unsurprising to learn that Louis Vuitton and Bally now both offer made-to-order shoes – and in the case of Vuitton, made-to-order handbags for women. Prada launched customisable eyewear and accessories options last year, Gucci moved into made-to-measure suits and shoes. Brioni recently revealed that 40% of its sales are derived from its bespoke products, stitched by hand in the Southern Italian town of Penne.

4545_Blancpain_YOTD_medium

Blancpain’s “Chinese Dragon” Caruso, limited to a run of only 50 units worldwide, retailing for approximately $220,000.

Regional Customisation

Regional influence has extended well beyond local inventory management and appropriate
communications strategies. Today geography not only exudes overt influence on product design but seeks to compliment – or should I say capitalise – on local culture and religion. 2012 will make an example out of China, with the significant number of products designed by luxury brands, celebrating the Year of the Dragon.

Just this week, Vertu has launched a luxury dragon-themed mobile phone based on its Signature collection, with prices hovering above $20,000. Coach has collaborated with Chinese artist Zhang Lan on an accessories collection, adorning the brand’s signature designs and mahogany colour scheme with golden dragons rendered in a style reminiscent of traditional Chinese ink painting (Jing Daily).


“ How far can brands travel in their quest to please consumers before they lose their own specific defining values and cultural heritage? ”


Piaget threw an elaborate gala in Beijing to launch its Dragon and Phoenix collections, Shanghai Tang collaborated with Nespresso for its Dragon collection and Rolls Royce has released a limited edition Phantom for the occasion – unsurprising when they now claim to sell more cars in China than they do in the West.

Swarovski lauded the event with a jewellery and timepiece collection whilst Versace designed a collection of flashy accessories starting at $5000, for distribution exclusively in the Asia Pacific region. Blancpain debuted its “Chinese Dragon” Caruso, priced at 1.4 million Yuan (approximately $220,000), limited to a run of only 50 units worldwide.

4546_Louis_Vuitton_Diwali_medium

Louis Vuitton’s 2010 celebration of Diwali, which included a collaboration with Indian artist Rajeev Sethi, whose window concepts were installed from Beirut to Shanghai and from Johannesburg to Oslo.

Many of these sentiments were evident in India 2011, when Hermès produced a range of Saris and Bottega Veneta its ‘Knot India’ collection, coinciding with its exhibition in Mumbai. Louis Vuitton was characteristically ahead of the curve back in 2010, when they feted Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, on a global scale.

Whilst pursuing these types of strategies is neither a surprising move nor a new one – particularly when you consider the fanfare that is Christmas – an increasingly diverse customer base is forcing brands into new territories and cultures that are not there own, as we have seen with the Year of the Dragon. But to remain successful, history suggests they must also stay true to their luxury positioning, the specialities and strengths of their own native soil and essentially, retain tight control their of brand image – easily achieved
by controlling the products on the market.

The question remains, how far can brands travel in their quest to please consumers before they lose their own specific defining values and cultural heritage? Does a Sari made in France by Hermès, hold real significance to an Indian consumer? How will products change again with the emerging strength of Brazil and continued prosperity in Russia?

With any luck 2012 will answer some of these questions, but as always, we invite our members to join the discussion below.

For more in our Bulletin series, please see our most recent editions as follows:


© Luxury Society, Luxury, Fully Customisable in 2012, by Sophie Doran.


Live the life!