Sonia Rykiel snapped up by Hong Kong investor

Europe was once the powerhouse for luxury companies and the place to be seen..

Times have changed with the Asia Pacific region putting up a fight against Europe and coming out on top.

China, Japan, India and Australia are now the places to be seen and with the news that luxury brand Sonia Rykiel has been snapped up by Hong Kong investors confirms that.

The Economic Times reports that Fung Brands, an investment company backed by Hong Kong billionaires Victor and William Fung has acquired 80 per cent of Sonia Rykiel with the founding family buying the other 20 per cent stake.

With China and the US performing better than the European markets, the investors will be injecting a much needed financial boost to enter the new markets.

Apart from Hermes, French-based Sonia Rykiel was one of the last French fashion luxury brands still to be owned by its founding family.

The remaining French brands are owned by luxury powerhouses PPR, Richemont or LVMH.

“We had to open our eyes to the fact that we had come to the end of our family (business) model,” Nathalie Rykiel, daughter of founder Sonia Rykiel and chairwoman of the company, told Reuters in a phone interview.

“I took the brand as far as I could alone. But the family needed the financial, strategic and human resources to make this brand what it was destined to become, which is a global brand.”

Sonia Rykiel was created in 1968, when France was rocked by violent student riots, with the aim of creating a counter-culture to stiff, bourgeois dress codes with inside-out stitches and extra-short skirts. Later, it produced sex toy collections. Ooh la la we say.

Rykiel said several potential buyers had shown their hand, including big groups, but she chose to shock once more by selling control to Hong Kong investors.

“That one of the last family-owned French luxury brands lets Hong Kong investors come into its capital amuses me a lot,” she said. “And I prefer to be the flagship brand of a company like Fung Brands than just one of many brands within a large group.”

Sonia Rykiel will sit alongside shoemaker Robert Clergerie and Belgian fine leather goods maker Delvaux, both acquired by Fung Brands last year.

Nathalie Rykiel, who will be vice chairman, will give up the day-to-day running of Sonia Rykiel, leaving it to Fung Brands Chief Executive Jean-Marc Loubier, a fashion veteran who used to run luxury brands Celine, Louis Vuitton and Escada.

The Fung family is behind the Li & Fung trading house , which is the parent of Hong Kong-based luxury menswear maker and distribution group Trinity, in turn the owner of Italian menswear brand Cerruti since 2010.

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