London: Fashion designer Michael Kors is set to buy Italian fashion house Versace for $2.1 billion in a bid to challenge Europes conglomerates at a time of rapid consolidation in the global luxury market.
Kors described the purchase as a milestone in its expansion plans.
The deal, which would end the independence of one of the last prominent stand-alone fashion brands, is the biggest effort yet by Kors to build an empire, reports nytimes.com.
Kors said the company will change its name to Capri Holdings Limited once the deal is completed.
The Michael Kors brand had its roots in the “middle market” of the luxury sector and relied on outlets and department stores, where deep discounting is common. But mall traffic has declined in North America – Kors’s biggest market – and shoppers were changing too, increasingly seeking brands at the extreme of the style and price spectrum.
Acquiring Versace, led by artistic director Donatella Versace, is part of the company’s strategy to woo more big spenders and find more loyal customers in Europe and Asia.
Last year, Kors bought shoe designer Jimmy Choo for 896 million pounds, or $1.2 billion at current exchange rates.
“There are very few people you meet and say, ‘I have to work with this person and be a part of their life.’ I had that immediately with Donatella Versace,” said John Idol, Chief Executive and Chairman, Michael Kors.
Kors, in a statement, said it was committed to investing in Versace’s growth, with a goal to increase its annual revenue from $850 million currently to over $2 billion over the next few years, as well as expand its retail network from 200 to 300 stores, nytimes.com.