Kelso Backs Fashion Brand

Kelso Place Asset Management, a special situations investor, has backed fashion brand Nicole Farhi, alongside private equity firm OpenGate Capital, its current owner. OpenGate Capital acquired the business from French Connection Group in 2010.

PRESS RELEASE

Kelso Place Asset Management LLP (Kelso Place), the special situations investor, today announces that it has invested in Nicole Farhi, the iconic global fashion brand, alongside OpenGate Capital, the private equity firm, its current owner. OpenGate Capital acquired the business from French Connection Group plc in 2010.

Nicole Farhi is a prominent international designer and has been a runway landmark since the brand’s inception in 1982. Headquartered in London, Nicole Farhi has four owned stores, including its newly opened flagship store in Conduit Street, and showrooms in Milan. Nicole Farhi’s collections are also available in department stores and boutiques worldwide.

Kelso Place will use its strong track record in the luxury brand space to provide financial, strategic and hands-on, operational support to the management team in order to ensure the future growth of the business. Nicole Farhi is continuing in her role as Creative Director and Niki Scordi will continue as CEO.

Kelso Place has a strong track record in working with luxury fashion brands, having owned Smythson, the luxury leather goods and bespoke stationery retailer, which it sold in December 2009. It currently also holds a significant shareholding in Anya Hindmarch, the premium handbag and accessories brand.

Sion Kearsey, Managing Partner of Kelso Place, commented: “Kelso Place has substantial experience in the luxury brand sector and Nicole Farhi is an ideal complement to our existing portfolio of investments. We will now be focussing on growing the business. Nicole Farhi is an internationally renowned, iconic fashion house which gives us a tremendous platform to build on.”

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About Kelso Place Asset Management

Kelso Place Asset Management was founded in 2000 and is currently investing a 100 million pounds ($153.3 million)(Special Situations Fund. The firm has raised four funds to date and has made a total of twelve investments. Current Kelso Place investments include MDNX, an independent provider of managed networks and hosting services; RED, a portfolio of services and products operating across the driving instruction industry; M86 Security, a global provider of E-mail and Internet security products; and Anya Hindmarch, a luxury designer brand.

Smythson was acquired by Kelso Place Asset Management in 2005 and sold in December 2009. Under Kelso Place’s ownership, Smythson grew significantly, increasing turnover by 59%, expanding retail stores to 15, growing its e-commerce business by 106% and further strengthening its business infrastructure.

The Kelso Place team includes nine investment professionals, with a broad range of investment, turnaround, operational and financial management skills. Kelso Place Asset Management is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

About Nicole Farhi

Nicole Farhi is a British fashion lifestyle brand launched in 1982, with collections in womenswear, menswear, homeware and eyewear. The unique blend of soft tailoring with luxurious separates and accessories, has made the Nicole Farhi name synonymous with quality. The collections are exhibited in London, New York, Paris and Milan.

About OpenGate Capital

OpenGate Capital is a global private equity firm focused on acquiring controlling interests in businesses with solid fundamentals that exhibit opportunities for growth and operational improvements. Established in 2005, OpenGate Capital has a global footprint with headquarters in Los Angeles, California and a principal office in Paris, France. OpenGate is served by a seasoned team of M&A and operating professionals who bring the skills needed to acquire, operate and build successful companies. The partners of OpenGate have executed more than 100 transactions worldwide ranging from corporate divestitures, turnaround acquisitions, industry consolidations and other special situations investments across a wide array of industries and geographic markets.