Vionnet resurrected thanks to the owner of Borsalino and an Emirati fund
A new European luxury and lifestyle conglomerate has been created by private equity firm Chimera Abu Dhabi and Haeres Capital, an investment firm specialised in luxury brand acquisitions founded in 2011 by businessman Philippe Camperio. Among its aquisitions is the French haute couture brand Vionnet.
The joint-venture company called ChimHaeres is an equal-equity investment vehicle that will deploy its capital to acquire and develop luxury and lifestyle brands in Europe, initially focusing on companies based primarily in Italy, France, Switzerland and the UK.
ChimHaere will support the management teams of the companies within its portfolio, helping them turn their vision into reality with Camperio as its CEO along with a team of experts including: Antonella di Pietro (formerly at Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger), Alberto Nathansohn (formerly at Bulgari, Benetton, Triumph) and Giacomo Santucci (from Borsalino). The group also relies on the know-how of Jérôme Macario, who was recruited in 2021 by Haeres to develop a luxury division.
On his part, Camperio is the majority shareholder of prestigious hat-maker Borsalino, based in Alessandria, Italy. Haeres took over and successfully relaunched the historic Italian hatmaker in 2018, and sales are said to have grown by 25% in 2022 to pass the €20 million mark.
In this joint-venture ChimHaeres has made three corporate investments. It bought a majority stake in Zagato, an iconic Italian automobile designer, founded in 1919 by Ugo Zagato and has also signed an agreement to buy a majority stake in Fogal, a Swiss tights brand founded in 1921.
At the same time, ChimHaeres acquired a 100% stake in Vionnet, the French haute couture label founded in 1912 by designer Madeleine Vionnet, described by Vogue UK as “the greatest geometrician of all French couturiers,” who inspired designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Azzedine Alaïa and Issey Miyake.
The house had been at a standstill since 2018 and its judicial liquidation. It was then in the hands of billionaire Goga Ashkenazi, who acquired it from Matteo Marzotto and Gianni Castiglioni and moved its headquarters from Paris to Milan. We can therefore expect a rebirth of one of the greatest names in fashion. The roadmap of the new owners is not yet known.
ChimHaeres has not disclosed the amounts invested in these operations, and stated in a press release that it will continue to search for potential investment opportunities in strong, aspirational brands, with the goal of accelerating their growth by focusing on international expansion, digital transformation and sustainability.
“ChimHaeres embodies the shared vision of both Chimera and Haeres to build and manage a multi-brand luxury and lifestyle platform,” said Camperio in the press release. “The partnership will invest in unique European assets applying a proactive management and ownership approach, through dedicated industry experts, to deliver the long-term strategies of each portfolio company,” he added.
“The global luxury market has shown remarkable growth and resilience in recent years despite the pandemic and various macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges. We are confident that our partnership with Haeres will enable us to capitalise on the attractive long-term fundamentals of the industry and establish ourselves as a leading investor in the European lifestyle space,” said Mirian Khalaf, head of private equity at Chimera Abu Dhabi, adding that, through ChimHaeres, Chimaera intends to “target highly appealing next-gen brands with strong heritage and interesting growth profiles, to serve an increasingly young, global audience.”
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