Could Calvin Klein rep or Whistles owner snap up Oroton?
Australia’s on-going Oroton story could take an interesting turn soon with Gazal, which handles some of the biggest US brands in the country, reported to be interested, as is another firm linked to The Foschini Group.
Luxury bags and accessories retailer Oroton has been in voluntary administration for several weeks with adviser Moelis seeking a buyer urgently, having been unable to find one prior to the administration filing.
The founding Lane family and investor Will Vicars had earlier been rumoured to be planning a privatisation, but that possibility has faded, although if no bids emerge or if the price is low, they could lose their investments in the company.
Gazal, which handles brands including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Van Heusen in Australia, has been expected to make an indicative bid this week. It is known to have already acquired a 7.35% stake in Oroton in recent months but is not believed to have placed a bid so far.
But also vying for Oroton, whose performance has slumped in a tough market, could be Strandbags Group, which is linked to The Foschini Group. Acquisitive Foschini, backed by the mega-rich Lewis family, has already bought up assets in Australia and is a big player in the UK through Whistles, Phase Eight and Hobbs.
Other - unnamed - international players are also said to be interested and local newspaper reports said the administrator is hoping for a last-minute bid battle to help push the price up.
Ororton has had a troubled history during this decade and has seen its share price plunge from A$9 in 2011 to 43.5 cents when it last traded. It lost the Ralph Lauren license and failed to re-ignite profits via its Gap franchise. It filed for administration as it struggled under the weight of a A$40 million debt load, some of which was linked to the wind-down of the Gap deal.
It has also been battered by the weak market conditions in Australia and the arrival of dynamic international name such as Michal Kors, Furla and Coach.
It’s important for the chain’s survival that its ownership is resolved soon with the company needing to place orders next month and give the makers of the product it wants to buy confidence that they’ll be paid.
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