BUSINESS OF FASHION: J. CREW IN TALKS TO SELL COMPANY TO UNIQLO’S PARENT COMPANY, FAST RETAILING
J.Crew, the preppy retailer fueled by Nantucket natives and Blair Waldorf wannabe’s, is discussing plans to sell the company to Fast Retailing, the Japanese retailer with holdings in fashion houses Uniqlo and Theory. Talk between the company owners and private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP are still in the early stages, which presents a possibility that the deal could fall through. If completed, the acquisition valued at more than $4.5bn, would grant J.Crew “a base to expand worldwide.”
This potential deal would be Fast Retailing’s latest effort to become one of the most dominant clothiers in the world. Run by Tadashi Yanani, the company is best known for low-pricing clothing brand Uniqlo in addition to a compilation of other brands such as French label Comptoir des Cotonniers and Helmut Lang.
“Mr. Yanai has long admired and coveted J. Crew – he has made a number of approaches over the years – and could see the company as a crown jewel in his empire.”
If taken over by Fast Retailing, J. Crew would expand internationally into coveted overseas markets. While continuing to operate stores in Canada and the UK, it also has plans of opening locations in Hong Kong. J. Crew would not be the only one to benefit from the deal, Uniqlo, known for its affordable “tricked out” clothing like Heattech technology, has been forthright about its goals for the US market. Back in 2011, then president of Uniqlo USA, Shin Odake, said the retailer wanted to revolutionize mass retailing in the US setting a goal to create 200 stores by 2020.
J. Crew CEO, Millard “Mickey” Drexler, has been attributed to putting the company on the style map. A professor of marketing in retail studies at Columbia University’s business school stated that should both retailers come under the same company umbrella “Drexler gets to continue to play in his J. Crew sandbox, or Drexler gets to reprise his Gap role on the larger Fast Retailing/Uniqlo platform.”
Stay tuned to see if affordable practicality will indeed come together with nautical stripes and tweed in yet another potential retail deal for the consumer industry.