Gordon Brothers buys Orsay – WWD

Gordon Brothers has acquired women’s lifestyle brand 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 aim to maintain Orsay’s ethos while introducing new clothing, footwear and accessories.

The terms of the agreement were not made public.

A request for comment regarding the value of the deal, as well as Orsay’s highest annual sales, hiring plans and non-e-commerce growth strategies, were not immediately confirmed Wednesday morning.

In April, Boston-based Gordon Brothers received $300 million in funding from the 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 the business internationally and maintain Orsay’s existing franchises, a partnership has been formed with commerce technology firm Scayle. Scayle provides e-commerce software to the brand so it can continue to serve customers in Europe. Under the new setup, Orsay also plans to use Scayle, which is the B2B entity 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, 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 severe impact of the pandemic on business and the impact of the war in Ukraine had reportedly depressed German consumers’ propensity to consume further, the Orsay spokesperson said at the time.

Last autumn, Orsay GmbH applied for protective shield treatment due to impending insolvency in the first quarter of 2022. It became insolvency treatment by self-administration at the end of January. At the time, the holding company of the French entrepreneurial Mulliez family passed Orsay on to 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 website in November 1998. An English version followed in the summer of 1999 and Orsay began shipping online orders to all EU countries. In a 2000 interview with WWD, an Orsay executive said the brand’s e-commerce grew fivefold in 1999 and was then comparable to that of the smallest Orsay store.

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

Tarek Muller, co-founder and CEO 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.”

Gordon Brothers dates back to 1903 and has been investing in brands since 2003. The company has helped bring new life to some well-known and nostalgic brands such as Laura Ashley. Gordon Brothers also owns New York-based Nicole Miller. The firm conducts dispositions and appraisals for more than $100 billion annually and provides short-term and long-term capital to clients. It is known to lend against and invest in brands, property, fixtures, equipment and other assets together and individually to provide customers with liquidity solutions.

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

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