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The Jimmy Choo Debate: Is Coffee Better Than Fashion?


When put in competition, the coffee business seems to be a more favorable one than the luxury fashion business—or at least based on the example of the Reimann family.

The Reimann family is comprised of cloistered German consumer goods billions who control JAB Holding, which happened to own a 67.6% stake of luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo.

On Monday, Jimmy Choo revealed that it was putting itself up for sale. JAB gained control of the brand for 540 million pounds, which was roughly $800 million based on the conversion rate of the time, in 2011. However, JAB only took Jimmy Choo public in 2014.

Additionally, JAB is in the midst of performing a strategic review of Bally, a Swiss brand focused on leather products, “including a possible sale of the company.” Belstaff, the British motocross-influenced brand acquired by JAB in 2008, is projected to be next on the company’s list of reviews.

Holdings have been cultivating a coffee and food empire of sorts in the US since 2012; from then until now, it has managed to acquire Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee and Keurig Green Mountain. Furthermore, these potential sell-offs of the luxury brands in which JAB owns a high stake is contemporaneous with the company’s decision to purchase the sandwich chain Panera for a value of $7.5 billion, including the company’s present debt.

According to documents, the New York Times was given access to, “JAB has, however, made significant investments in coffee and related areas in recent years, and as a result, now considers its investment in luxury as noncore.”

Luxembourg-based JAB intends to shift its focus to its investments in Coty, in which it possesses a 36.84% stake, as well as the various other high-end coffee businesses it considerable control over, including Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligensia Coffee & Tea.

Ridding itself of its investments in Jimmy Choo, Bally and Belstaff would fully remove JAB from the fashion industry, terminating an 8-year struggle to construct a feasible luxury group to compete with the Big Three—LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Richemont and Kering. This also potentially signifies additional consolidation in an industry already grappling with decelerating growth and modifying consumer tastes. The shift in the company’s strategy also implies that the market is experiencing a surge in the desire of consumers to spend money on experience, which would include meals and coffee, rather than on material goods like handbags and shoes.

JAB notably joined the luxury goods market in 2007 and quickly acquired various desirable brands, including US-based designer Derek Lam, Italian handbag brand Zagliani (which was known in the eyes of the media, at the time, for making use of Botox in its exotic-skin totes and purses to ensure that they maintained a supple quality), British jeweler Solange Azagury-Partridge, and leather goods power players such as Jimmy Choo, Bally and Belstaff, all under a new division called Labelux.

A mere four years after such, JAB has sold its stakes in both the Lam and Azagury-Partridge companies to the founders of the brands. In 2014, it decided to retake its focus on leather goods by bringing the persisting brands directly under JAB Holding’s control. Notably, though, it decided to close Zagliani in 2015.

Although Jimmy Choo claimed the title of the first footwear brand to list on a public market, riding the successful wave experienced by accessories. Bally faced various challenges in attempting to set itself apart from its competitors in a crowded market, taking hesitant paces to expand its brand by investing in apparel to no avail. Belstaff, additionally, regardless of its highly publicized and well-received campaign with David Beckham, had trouble breaking through to the market.

Unfortunately, it seems that these efforts by JAB are nearing their culmination.

As divulged by JAB in their most recent statement, there have not been any bids for Jimmy Choo as of now, but the industry is closely monitoring the situation for any hint of declarations of intent. The situation has especially caught the public eye as footwear has recently experienced a rapid increase in popularity within the industry. This is supported by the price incline of over 9% in Jimmy Choo shares since the news of its sale was released.

Featured Image via Wikimedia.

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