- Chanel has acquired British swim and resort wear brand Orlebar Brown from shareholders, including Piper (a leading U.K. investor in consumer brands) and company founder Adam Brown, who will remain creative director. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, according to a Chanel press release emailed to Retail Dive last week.
Earlier this month, Chanel has also taken a 20% minority stake in Montres Journe SA, which produces the upscale watch brand F.P. Journe, CPP Luxury reports. Neither Chanel nor FP Journe immediately returned Retail Dive's requests for comment on the transaction.
Chanel has recently made efforts to streamline its operations, including consolidating its headquarters in London and shuttering its U.S. office. The privately held luxury company this summer also took the unusual step of publishing an annual report, detailing its finances, brand position and goals.
Chanel joins other major luxury players in streamlining operations and investing in other brands.
Most recently, Michael Kors announced last week it will rebrand to Capri Holdings after its $2.12 billion acquisition of Italian luxury fashion house Gianni Versace is complete. Last year, Coach rebranded as Tapestry in an effort to return to its upscale branding and price points; Burberry announced a brand "sharpening"; LVMH shook up its leadership suite and is amplifying Dior to fortify its own luxury position. In January, Kering shed sneaker label Puma to focus on luxury sales.
By running a series of brands and manufacturing operations, luxury conglomerates like LVMH and Chanel create efficiencies and synergies often hard to come by in a sector that requires special attention and more expense every step of the way.
Chanel's investment in F.P. Journe, for example, suggests the company is interested in adding FP Journe's watch case and dial manufacturing, as well as its expertise, to its existing Swiss facilities, according to CPP Luxury.
In buying Orlebar Brown, which was founded in 2007 as a pure-play online retailer and has become a cult favorite, Chanel's approach extends beyond efficiencies and says a lot about its ongoing work to stay relevant even in its second century. That stands in contrast to Michael Kors' move to acquire the decades old, and struggling, Versace brand.
There are also more practical reasons for Chanel's acquisition of the swimwear brand. Orlebar Brown balances Chanel's existing offering, which includes women's swim line Eres, with a comparable one for men. It also allows the venerable company to leverage the digital success story's strengths, according to Philippe Blondiaux, Chanel's global chief financial officer.
"As well as sharing the same values and approach in terms of quality and know-how, this acquisition represents an ideal opportunity for synergy between Orlebar Brown and ERES," he said in a statement. "As a 'digital native' brand, Orlebar Brown will enable ERES to strengthen its digital expertise and optimize its omnichannel distribution strategy. Orlebar Brown, on the other hand, will benefit from the retail experience and expertise of a long-standing player in high-quality beachwear."