Gordon Brothers Acquires European Fashion Brand Orsay

Gordon Brothers has acquired the women’s lifestyle label Orsay.

As part of the deal, the restructuring and investment company has also acquired the brand’s archives, related trademarks and other intellectual property from Orsay GmbH. In doing so, Gordon Brothers aims to maintain Orsay’s ethos while also introducing new apparel, footwear and accessories.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A request seeking comment regarding the value of the deal, as well as Orsay’s peak annual sales, hiring plans and non-e-commerce growth strategies was not immediately acknowledged Wednesday morning.

In April, the Boston-based Gordon Brothers received $300 million in financing from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, increasing the advisory, restructuring and investment firm’s capital base to more than $1 billion.

In an effort to build up the business internationally and maintain Orsay’s existing franchises, a partnership with the commerce technology firm Scayle has been formed. Scayle is providing e-commerce software to the brand so that it can continue to serve shoppers in Europe. Under the new setup, Orsay also plans to use Scayle, which is the B2B unit and infrastructure behind About You, with its B2B and distribution services.

On Instagram, Orsay trumpets its “young, fashionable and affordable outfits to express your femininity.” But the company has struggled in the past year. In March, the Willstatt, Germany-based fashion retailer Orsay announced plans to terminate contracts for its 200 German stores. In June, a company spokesperson announced that it was closing all branches and had laid off approximately 1,200 workers. The pandemic’s severe dent on business and the impact of the war in Ukraine had reportedly further depressed German consumers’ propensity to consume, the Orsay spokesperson said at that time.

Last fall, Orsay GmbH applied for protective shield proceedings due to impending insolvency in the first-quarter of 2022. That turned into insolvency proceedings by self-administration at the end of January. At that time, the holding company of the French entrepreneurial family Mulliez passed Orsay on to the restructuring specialists Gordon Brothers to try to save the German outposts.

Interestingly, Orsay was one of the earliest European companies to go online in Germany by launching a site in November 1998. An English version followed in the summer of 1999 and Orsay started shipping online orders to all European Union countries. In a 2000 interview with WWD, an Orsay executive said the brand’s e-commerce increased five times in 1999 and were then comparable to those of the smallest Orsay store.

In a statement released Wednesday, Gordon Brothers’ president of brands Tobias Nanda said that the company has been following the Orsay story for years and has been impressed by its “powerful connection” with consumers.

Tarek Muller, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of About You and Scayle, praised Gordon Brothers for “its enthusiasm for Orsay, flexibility and readiness to ensure its continued presence in the European market.”

Dating back 1903, Gordon Brothers has been investing in brands since 2003. The company has helped to reinvigorate some well-known and nostalgic labels like Laura Ashley. Gordon Brothers also owns the New York-based Nicole Miller. The firm conducts more than $100 billion worth of dispositions and appraisals annually and provides short-term and long-term capital to clients. It is known to lend against and invest in brands, real estate, inventory, equipment and other assets together and individually to give clients liquidity solutions.

Through its acquisitions, Gordon Brothers’ approach often involves expanding licensees and franchises in order to strengthen e-commerce and develop more strategic wholesale and retail ties.

 

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