Vandevelde snaps up Jil Sander for £68m

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The Independent Online

Change Capital Partners, the venture capital firm run by the former Marks & Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde, snapped up Prada's German fashion house Jil Sander yesterday for an estimated £68m.

The Italian fashion group had been in talks to sell its loss-making German labels for months. The fashion world has been dominated by giant multi-brand players such as LVMH and Gucci since the 1990s but recently they have been selling off small labels after struggling to make them profitable.

Jil Sander won rave reviews for its womenswear ranges this week under a new creative director, the Belgian designer Raf Simons, but it has had a few rocky years behind it. The business was founded in 1973 by Jil Sander, who sold her business to Prada in 2000 and walked out at the end of 2004 for the second time after falling out with the new owner's managers. Prada slipped into a loss in 2004 because of Jil Sander and fellow German label Helmut Lang, whose sale Prada is also considering.

Simons's debut collection in Milan this week, featuring plain black coats, white cotton shirts, slim pants and ultra-long, monochromatic dresses, was praised for refocusing Sander on its minimalist traditions and giving the fashion house some much-needed direction.

Gian Giacomo Ferraris, the chief executive, will continue to run the Hamburg-based Jil Sander, Change Capital's first foray into the world of luxury.

Stephan Lobmeyr at Change Capital, which also owns the UK hardware chain Robert Dyas, said: "Prada has done a very good job turning the brand around, but multi-brands have to focus on core labels. Many of them find it difficult to manage several similar brands or brands with similar space. Someone who focuses on a brand like Jil Sander can get much more out of it."

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