Last Updated May 11, 2010 5:52 PM EDT
Jones Apparel Group's (JNY) handy scoop of controlling interest in high-end footwear brand Stuart Weitzman is a textbook lesson in acquisition strategy for managers of any kind of brand. For starters, Jones' careful orchestration of the 55 percent stake means that Mr. Weitzman continues on as executive chairman while Jones gets a crack at a more (ahem) well-heeled consumer with an expert at the helm.
And the timing couldn't be better. Stuart Weitzman rang up $193 million in revenue in 2009, despite the downturn in the luxury market (apparently even the economy can't stand between a fashionista and her studded stilettos).
What's more is that the brand, which markets its shoes and accessories in department and specialty stores, has also been busy growing its own chain of retail stores in the U.S. and abroad. Now 38 locations strong, 20 of those stores opened stateside in the past five years along with its first five outlets. The Jones acquisition just gives Weitzman more money and resources to grow.
For Jones, which also owns the perennially popular Nine West brand, the $180 million dollar deal is just one more step towards beefing up its luxury portfolio (think the recent acquisitions of Rachel Roy and Robert Rodriguez.
That's good news for Jones' growing e-commerce site ShoeWoo, a multi-brand, interactive shoe boutique that's poised to go head-to-head with Gap's (GPS) Piperlime footwear e-tailer. Piperlime carries premium designer brand shoes as well as Jones' owned Joan & David and others. By adding Weitzman to its family, ShoeWoo becomes even more of a designer destination.
Terms of the deal also include a complete buyout of Weitzman in 2012 â€"- providing the brand holds on to its value over the next two years -â€" which, with retail sales trending up as they have, should be a shoe-in.