Eurazeo, a European investment company, has committed to invest up to $800 million in U.S. and European consumer brands over the next three to five years.
The Paris investment firm is launching Eurazeo Brands and has hired Jill Granoff to head up the division. Granoff is former CEO of Kellwood Holding and Vince Holding, both portfolio companies of Sun Capital Partners. (Sun sold Kellwood at the end of 2016 but as of April 10 still owned a 58 percent stake in Vince, according to SEC filings.) Granoff is also former CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions.
Eurazeo Brands is the parent’s fifth business division. The Eurazeo unit will invest $10 million to $600 million equity per deal. For deals that require $100 million or more, Eurazeo Brands will seek to co-invest with Eurazeo Capital, which targets mid- and large-cap transactions. Sectors of interest include beauty, apparel, accessories, home, jewelry, leisure, health, fitness and food.
Unlike traditional private equity, Eurazeo is not tied to a fund but has permanent capital, Granoff said. The firm has 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) of assets under management, of which 1 billion euros is third-party funds, she said. Eurazeo is publicly traded, with 1 billion euros in cash and no structural debt, she said.
“The beauty of Eurazeo is that we are very flexible in terms of deal size,” she said. “We can do emerging growth, but our sweet spot will be middle-market companies. We can invest in larger-cap companies as well but in partnership with Eurazeo Capital.”
Eurazeo Brands, New York, will also be hiring. Granoff said she’s looking to add six or seven investment professionals or people with operating experience. “We will be bringing in senior advisers to build out the division,” she said.
Granoff is known for taking Vince public in 2013. The high-end sportswear brand surged nearly 50 percent in its opening day as a public company. But like many in the retail sector, Vince has struggled and its shares have plunged, currently trading at 62 cents.
Granoff, who left Vince in 2015, said the company achieved tremendous success during her three-year tenure. “There have been a lot of changes since I left two years ago, and it’s unfortunate that the company is experiencing hard times, especially since I believe Vince is still a great brand in the mind of many consumers,” she said.
Retail, she said, remains vibrant “but people are shopping differently.” Consumers today are shopping online, are shopping based on price and are more focused on experiences, she said. “We have identified categories like home or food or leisure as target categories because people are spending money differently,” Granoff said.
Eurazeo is being progressive, bringing on strategic and operating executives like her to partner with their investment professionals, she said. “Clearly, I’ve been in their shoes. I realize what the issues are. I’ve built brands,” Granoff said.
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Jill Granoff, CEO of Eurazeo Brands. Photo courtesy of Eurazeo.