Labelux is backed by the Reimanns, a billionaire German family, and their interest shows just well the luxury goods market has bucked the general economic malaise. Demand for very expensive designer handbags and watches may have slowed down for a couple of years, but it looks like we should expect a sparkling performance again in the next 12 months: global sales are expected to hit a record €185bn (£160bn) in 2011, spurred by demand from China, strong tourist spending in Europe, resurgent growth in Russia and recovery in the US. That’s got to be good for the sole.
Jimmy Choo’s co-founder Tamara Mellon, who remains as chief creative officer and the face of the brand, described the deal as ‘wonderful news for the women who are, or who aspire to become, part of the Jimmy Choo lifestyle’. Quite how the deal will affect the aspirations of the elegant-toed hordes we’re not sure. But either way, it’s wonderful news for Mellon: with a 17% stake recently valued at £85m, she’ll be quids in.
This latest sale marks the fourth time the brand, named Britain’s most desirable last year by OK magazine, has changed hands since 1996, when Mellon co-founded it with the eponymous London-based shoemaker. TowerBrook bought it for £185m in 2007, and can take a lot credit for turning it into a global brand – while broadening its range to include handbags, jewellery and perfume. Oh, and leopard-print trainers.
Jimmy Choo now has 120 stores worldwide, and Labelux says it was attracted by the potential for further growth: after hitting £150m last year, sales are apparently up more than 10% this year as it enjoys booming demand for luxury from Asia. And Mellon is perfectly-placed to further exploit such changing tastes: David Cameron, understandably keen to associate himself with this British success story, appointed her as a trade envoy late last year, with the brief to walk the Earth spreading the word of the UK’s business potential. She might be better off not wearing a pair of her own heels for that one.