Gordon Brothers has acquired the women’s lifestyle brand Orsay, archives, associated trademarks and other intellectual property from Orsay GmbH.
In doing so, Gordon Brothers aims to maintain the Orsay ethos while introducing new apparel, footwear and accessories.
The terms of the contract are not disclosed.
In an interview on Wednesday, Gordon Brothers brand president Tobias Nanda said Orsay had generated nearly 500 million euros in sales before COVID-19.
In a joint interview with Gordon Brothers chief brand officer Carolyn D’Angelo, he declined to comment on the investment in the acquisition.
In April, Boston-based Gordon Brothers received $300 million in funding from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, raising the advisory, restructuring and investment firm’s capital to over a billion dollars.
In an effort to expand the business internationally and maintain Orsay’s existing franchises, a partnership with commercial technology company Scayle was formed. Scayle provides e-commerce software to the brand so it can continue to serve shoppers in Europe. As part of the new setup, Orsay also plans to use Scayle, which is the business-to-business unit and infrastructure behind About You, with its b-to-b and distribution services.
On Instagram, Orsay trumpeted her “young, fashionable and affordable outfits to express her femininity”. But the company has struggled over the past year. Contrary to reports earlier this year that the Willstatt, Germany-based fashion retailer announced plans to terminate the contracts of its 200 German stores and lay off 1,200 employees, Nanda said Orsay had more than 190 franchise and wholesale stores across Europe. The pandemic’s severe dent in business and the impact of war in Ukraine would have further depressed German consumers’ propensity to consume, Orsay’s spokesman said at the time.
Last fall, Orsay GmbH filed for protective shield proceedings due to impending insolvency in the first quarter of 2022. This turned into self-administration insolvency proceedings at the end of January. At that time, the holding company of the French business family Mulliez handed over Orsay to restructuring specialists Gordon Brothers.
Nanda said, “We bought the brand. What I will call the old company was dissolved and a number of company-owned stores were closed, mainly in Germany. But the franchisees continued to sell Orsay, continue to operate and will continue to operate for the next few years. »
A small group of employees have since been hired with the current number of less than 100 people. They focus on sourcing, design, marketing, online and franchisees, in line with Gordon Brothers’ asset-light model. Most of these hires previously worked for the old company. “This core group stipulates that the design works on the brand the same as before and serves our partners,” Nanda said. “Our goal is not to reinvent Orsay. Our goal is to continue the brand as it was before, in terms of aesthetics and DNA, but new in a way that makes economic sense.
Interestingly, Orsay was one of the first European companies to go online in Germany, launching a site in November 1998. An English version followed in the summer of 1999 and Orsay began shipping online orders to all countries. of the European Union. In an interview with WWD in 2000, an Orsay executive said that the brand’s e-commerce had increased fivefold by 1999 and was then comparable to that of Orsay’s smaller store.
Nanda noted how the e-commerce and franchise components of Orsay were very healthy, but the company-owned stores weren’t as healthy. “That’s why we have focused on e-commerce and franchisees in our business model. But in terms of product, design and marketing, these things are very well done, so we will continue with them,” Nanda said.
Seeking to make d’Orsay a lifestyle brand modeled on a Laura Ashley or a Nicole Miller, two companies owned by Gordon Brothers, D’Angelo said the plan was to dress the customer in Orsay from head to toe and create lifestyle products for the home. . This could translate to home decor, more accessories, perfume, or jewelry. With ongoing discussions with potential partners, the goal is to launch new categories in the second half of next year, D’Angelo said.
Tarek Müller, co-founder and co-CEO of About You and Scayle, praised Gordon Brothers, which dates back to 1903, for “its enthusiasm for Orsay, its flexibility and its desire to ensure its continued presence in the European market”.
Gordon Brothers has been investing in brands since 2003. The company has helped reinvigorate some well-known and nostalgic brands like Laura Ashley. Gordon Brothers also owns the New York company Nicole Miller. The company completes more than $100 billion in divestments and valuations annually and provides short- and long-term capital to clients. He is known for lending and investing in brands, real estate, inventory, equipment and other assets together and individually to provide clients with liquidity solutions.
Through its acquisitions, Gordon Brothers’ approach is often to expand licenses and franchises to strengthen e-commerce and develop more strategic ties with wholesale and retail. Referring to Orsay, Nanda said: “Our goal is to continue in the same direction as in the past. If we do our job well, the woman who shopped at Orsay last year shouldn’t see a difference. She will continue to see the same categories, the same items and the same styles when she walks through an Orsay store.
As part of a geographic growth strategy, the brand aims to expand sales in France, Spain, Italy, the UK, Panama, Argentina and Brazil, he added.