Iconix Brand Group, Inc. today announced that it has acquired the remaining 50% of Iconix China from its joint venture partner Novel Fashion Brands Limited, owned by the Chou family, for $56.4 million, of which $40.4 million was paid in cash and $16 million was paid in the Company’s common stock.
“We view China as a major growth opportunity. Through Silas and Veronica Chou’s expertise and relationships, Iconix China has successfully launched nine of our brands with more than 900 standalone stores, shop-in-shops and counters throughout China,” stated Neil Cole, Chairman and CEO of Iconix. “Now that our business has gained sufficient scale, we have decided to acquire management and control of the business, consistent with the next phase of our international growth strategy.”
Iconix China was formed in September 2008. The operating model, different from Iconix’ traditional licensing model has been to attract entrepreneurs and fast-growing local Chinese companies, providing them with an Iconix brand in which they invest through the build-out of stand-alone stores and shop-in-shops, and in return Iconix China receives an equity stake in the newly formed venture. To date, the brands that Iconix China has placed successfully are Candie’s and Marc Ecko Cut & Sew with Shanghai La Chapelle Fashion Co. Ltd; London Fog with China Outfitters; Material Girl with Ningbo Peacebird; Ed Hardy with Landmark International; Ecko Unltd. with Xi Ha Clothing; Badgley Mischka with Eve NY; Joe Boxer with Northeast Socks; and Royal Velvet with Qingdao Hongfang.
The largest brand in the Iconix China joint venture is Candie’s, which partnered with Shanghai La Chapelle in 2010. The Candie’s business in China expanded to more than 700 stores and shop-in-shops by 2014 and is poised for continued growth. The Company’s business platform in China also includes its three global brands of Peanuts, Umbro and Lee Cooper which have been managed outside of the joint venture. China has been one of the fastest growing territories for the Peanuts brand. Today, Peanuts has over 2,000 points of distribution across China including 20 Charlie Brown Cafe’s, and significant growth potential with the highly anticipated launch of the Peanuts movie. In 2014, the Company partnered with Global Brands Group to build out the Lee Cooper and Umbro brands in China, both of which have strong brand recognition in the region.
Willy Burkhardt, EVP, Managing Director International, commented, “This transaction will bring us closer to the important Chinese market, help us to identify potential brand acquisitions and develop new business opportunities for our unplaced brands.”
This transaction provides Iconix with full control and ownership of Iconix China, which owns equity stakes in two joint ventures with the recently public Shanghai La Chapelle that can be put to Shanghai La Chapelle for cash; publicly traded shares in China Outfitters; equity stakes in an additional six retail ventures of which four have plans to go public in the next 5 years; control over a portfolio of 15 unplaced brands; and an office and staff in Hong Kong dedicated to Iconix China.