Orange County Business Journal

Report Puts St. John Knits Up for Sale

Kari Hamanaka Monday, May 21, 2012

Irvine-based high-end women’s clothing maker St. John Knits International Inc. is on the sales block.

Vestar Capital Partners, the New York private equity firm that bought St. John 13 years ago, is shopping for a buyer, according to a report from trade publication Women’s Wear Daily.

A spokeswoman for St. John directed inquiries to a Vestar spokesperson, who declined comment on the reported sale.

Vestar, along with then-Chief Executive and co-founder Robert E. Gray and the Gray family, paid $522 million for the company in 1999 in a deal that gave Vestar a majority stake in the company.

St. John had previously been owned by international fashion brand Escada AG of Germany, which took the company public in 1993.

St. John is known for its knitwear that’s sold internationally in stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in addition to 27 company-owned stores.