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St. John Knits’ Parent Makes Public Debut

Lanvin Group merges with SPAC

St. John Knits is ending the year as part of a new public entity.

Shanghai-based parent company Lanvin Group went public last week via a reverse merger with Primavera Capital Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, commonly known as a SPAC.

The Dec. 15 deal valued Lanvin Group, owner of the famed Irvine luxury knit house, around $1 billion at the time of the public listing; when the plans to go public were first announced in March, a $1.5 billion valuation for Lanvin was cited.

The company’s shares now trade on the NYSE under the “LANV” ticker symbol.
Lanvin raised $150 million in capital as part of the transaction, in addition to the $414 million Primavera raised in January.

A new investor, South Korea-based Meritz Securities Co., committed an additional $50 million in a private placement in July. Other shareholders include Fosun International Limited, Stella International Ltd., and Baozun Inc. (Nasdaq: BZUN).

Members from Lanvin, Primavera and the group’s portfolio of brands met in New York City to ring the opening bell on the morning of its trade debut. This included St. John’s Andy Lew, who recently became the retailer’s global chief executive. He was named interim CEO in 2021 following the departure of previous executive Eran Cohen.

“It is an incredible time for the group, which has built an iconic portfolio of heritage brands and recorded strong growth over recent years,” Lew told the Business Journal. “Especially given the capital markets to successfully launch the only fashion IPO in 2022.”

Primavera Capital was trading near $10 leading up to the offering. Lanvin was trading near $9 per share with a roughly $500 million market cap at press time.

$200M Goal

This year marks the 60th anniversary for St. John, whose wool blend clothes have been go-to pieces for women execs and first ladies for decades. Current fans of the brand include first lady Jill Biden; Vice President Kamala Harris has attended meetings and events wearing the firm’s luxury items.

When Lanvin Group first announced plans to go public in March, the company said it expected the listing would help expand its reach in both Asia and North America.

St. John counts 48 stores in 13 countries. The company accounted for about 22% of Lanvin’s total revenue last year and was the parent company’s second-largest unit by sales, according to regulatory filings.

According to Business Journal data, St. John reported 12-month sales of $82 million in 2021. Lanvin projects growth of at least $94 million between fiscal years 2021 to 2025 for St. John, with growth driven by retail store expansion.

The parent company said in regulatory filings that the Irvine business can top more than $200 million in annual sales by 2025, with China and other Asian markets presenting a major opportunity for growth. “Going public is a natural step for Lanvin Group right now,” Lanvin Chairman and CEO Joann Cheng said in a statement. “Looking forward, our strategy is driving continuous organic growth through geographic, channel and product expansion for our brands, combined with disciplined investment in the luxury fashion sector.”

Lew described the debut as an “opportunity we welcome.”

Trade Debut

In the first half of 2022, Lanvin Group reported revenue of about $215 million, up 73% compared to the same period last year. The firm attributed the increase to growth in North American and European markets.

Other Lanvin Group subsidiaries include its namesake label Lanvin, as well as Italian shoemaker Sergio Rossi and Austria-based Wolford.

The group has plans to further digitize and focus on its subsidiaries’ e-commerce practices, such as transitioning a couple of its retailers to a new digital platform powered by Shopify, a multinational e-commerce platform.

History

St. John, founded by Robert Gray and his wife, Marie, in 1962, has seen several changes in ownership over the years; the company was publicly traded for a time in the 1990s.

Chinese consumer goods firm Fosun International took a one-third stake in the company in late 2013 for $55 million. In 2017, Fosun took over a majority stake in the company on undisclosed terms, and later spun it off into that firm’s new Lanvin Group division.

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