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Historic Brands, New Starts

DAVID JACKSON
CEO
JACUZZI GROUP
IRVINE

The famed manufacturer of hot tubs, spas, bathtubs and bathroom products is writing its next chapter in Orange County, and it’s on a hiring push.

THEN: The iconic company—which owns the trademark to the eponymous Jacuzzi brand, and also owns Sundance Spas and ThermoSpas, among other wellness-focused lines, and with roots in Italy—in early 2019 was acquired by an affiliate of Investindustrial, a large European investment firm, in a deal with Cleveland-based Nottingham Spirk Design Associates. At the time of that deal, made on undisclosed terms, Jacuzzi’s annual revenue was around $500 million.

NOW: Since the sale, Jacuzzi has seen growth every year, and officials expect its fiscal 2022 revenue to be double what they were pre-sale, if not more. Part of that growth is down to a series of acquisitions under the company’s new ownership group, and new product offerings, execs say. In addition, the pandemic brought heightened demand for the company’s products from stuck-at-home customers. In March, the company moved its headquarters from Chino Hills to Irvine.

FUTURE: As of April, Jacuzzi Group was looking to add about 50 positions in the new Irvine office, particularly in IT, finance, sales, marketing and legal. Company officials expect the move will draw interest from Orange County’s employee base. Since moving to Irvine, “there’s been a transformation of interest” among potential talent, Chief Legal Officer Jason Weintraub said. “The talent pool here is fantastic.”

IN THEIR WORDS: “People are trying to make their backyard a special place and an extension of their indoor space, especially as we had to live at home more frequently,” Jackson said in April. “The two forces of the wellness trend and the outdoor living trend are really providing us with huge momentum.

CHRIS BRITT
CO-OWNER, CEO
MOUNTAIN MIKE’S PIZZA
NEWPORT BEACH

ED ST. GEME
CO-OWNER, CEO
MOUNTAIN MIKE’S PIZZA
NEWPORT BEACH

Owners of one of OC’s fastest-growing restaurant chains, one which has posted record sales several years running. The firm benefited much from the pandemic environment. “Offering convenience and food to a quarantined guest drove a lot of business in stores,” Britt said.

THEN: The duo—who learned the restaurant business through prior ownership of 43 Burger Kings—turned to a familiar name from their college years and bought the pizzeria concept in 2017.

NOW: Franchise-focused businesses reported its best years in sales growth for 2021. Total system sales hit over $250 million for Mountain Mike’s, which counts more than 250 locations. Ranked as No. 11 restaurant chain based in OC by sales ended December 2021. More’s in store for 2022. Mountain Mike’s established new franchise agreements for over 60 new restaurants in 2021, and opened 18 new restaurants over the course of last year. The pizza chain currently has five locations in OC, but 10 more are in development among its planned 30 new spots for 2022.

FUTURE: Mountain Mike’s has been methodically moving eastward, with recent new locations in Idaho and Arizona. Britt and St. Geme say that Texas could eventually be on par with the pizzeria’s presence in California.

IN THEIR WORDS: “Whatever you’re franchising, the franchise business has a consistent playbook you need to provide,” Britt said.

ANDY LEW
DEPUTY CEO
ST. JOHN KNITS
IRVINE

Iconic apparel company founded by Robert Gray and his wife, Marie, in 1962, whose wool-blend clothes have been go-to pieces for women execs and first ladies over the decades, as well as endorsed by celebrities such as Angelina Jolie. Counts 47 stores located in 13 countries, and the knit fashion retailer reported 130 points of sale as of September 2021.

THEN: Firm, now entering its 60th year of operations, has seen several changes in ownership over the years. Most recently, 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 which includes other high-end heritage fashion brands.

NOW: Lanvin going public via a SPAC deal, and expected to be valued around $1.5 billion. St. John generated about $82 million of sales in fiscal 2021, up 12% from 2020, according to financial data pertaining to the planned reverse merger. The company made up about 22% of Lanvin’s total revenue last year, and was the parent company’s second-largest unit by sales, according to regulatory filings.

FUTURE: Financial projections for St. John Knits indicate the parent company believes the Irvine business can top more than $200 million in annual sales by 2025, with growth coming via its existing retail stores, expansion into China, and a bigger e-commerce presence, among other factors.

IN THEIR WORDS: Going public marks “a momentous moment for Lanvin Group and we are excited for their path to become publicly traded. Being part of a global luxury fashion group will only benefit St. John as we move into our 60th anniversary of business in Southern California,” Lew told the Business Journal.

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