February 9, 2018 / 5:19 PM / 16 days ago

China's Shandong Ruyi expands fashion empire with Bally

* Shandong Ruyi to buy a controlling stake in Bally from JAB

* Already controls Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot owner SMCP

* JAB has already sold off Belstaff and Jimmy Choo

PARIS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Shandong Ruyi has agreed to buy a controlling stake in Swiss luxury shoe and accessories firm Bally from Luxembourg-based JAB Holding, the companies said on Friday, as the Chinese textile maker builds up a portfolio of fashion labels.

Shandong Ruyi, which did not disclose financial details for its latest purchase, had swooped on France’s SMCP in 2016, buying a majority stake in the company behind affordable luxury labels Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot.

SMCP went public in 2017.

Shandong Ruyi has been growing its network of luxury clothing and accessories labels in an industry still dominated at the very high end by large French conglomerates like Louis Vuitton owner LVMH and Gucci parent Kering.

“This is an important milestone for Shandong Ruyi Group in our enterprise to become a global leader in the fashion apparel sector,” Yafu Qiu, Chairman of Shandong Ruyi Group, said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting Bally in achieving its continued growth and enhancing its brand globally.”

Bally, founded in 1851 in Switzerland as a quality footwear company and now headquartered in Milan, has been looking to boost annual sales to $1 billion under Chief Executive Frederic de Narp. They were less half of that in 2015.

Privately-held JAB Holdings -- which owns doughnut makers Krispy Kreme as well as coffee brands and has a stake in consumer products group Reckitt Benckiser -- has meanwhile been spinning off its luxury and fashion investments.

It will retain an undisclosed minority stake in Bally. JAB had already sold off British fashion brand Belstaff as well as shoemaker Jimmy Choo.

The brand famed for its towering stiletto heels coveted by celebrities was snapped up last year for $1.2 billion by U.S. retailer Michael Kors, which has since said it wants to grow its business with more acquisitions in the sector.

Shandong Ruyi spent HK$2.22 billion ($283.88 million) on a controlling stake in Hong Kong menswear group Trinity Ltd at the end of last year.

The retailer and wholesaler’s brands include classic British menswear makers Kent & Curwen and Gieves & Hawkes, and Cerruti 1881, a Paris-based fashion house which also makes fragrances and watches.

Shandong Ruyi also bought London-based suit maker Aquascutum from Hong Kong’s YGM Trading Ltd last year for $117 million.

$1 = 7.8203 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Catherine Evans

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