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St. John Owner to Buy Sergio Rossi With Eyes on China Growth

Shanghai-based Fosun Fashion Group (FFG) has entered into an agreement to completely acquire Sergio Rossi, it announced Thursday.

The Fosun International associate will buy the Italian footwear brand from Absolute Luxury Holding, an independently managed investment subsidiary of Investindustrial.

Since its founding in 2017, FFG has acquired majority ownership of several luxury brands, including the intimates company Wolford, menswear maker Caruso, American luxury house St. John and French fashion label Lanvin. It also owns a majority share of the lifestyle brand Tom Tailor. FFG said its latest acquisition will complete “a more well-rounded strategic brand ecosystem” and create potential synergy between brands through Sergio Rossi’s fully owned factory.

“When we dived into the brand, we were captivated by its DNA which is deeply rooted in the creativity and expertise of its eponymous founder,” FFG chairman Joann Cheng said in a statement. “Furthermore, we were also mesmerized by Sergio Rossi’s archive, meticulously renovated, and digitally filed with over 13,000 documents, and where over 6,000 heritage shoes are stored as inspiration for future collections.”

According to Investindustrial’s chairman of Asia, Michael Guan, significant sales growth in Asia and, in particular, China have made the area “the key region for Sergio Rossi.” Given FFG’s “strong position” in the region, he said Investindustrial believes it to be “an ideal new owner” to help the brand expand in Asia.

Sergio Rossi founded his eponymous label in 1951. Kering bought a majority stake in Rossi’s business in 1999 before later acquiring complete ownership in 2005 and then selling the brand to Investindustrial in 2015. Today, the company has a worldwide distribution network of 64 stores, 45 of which are directly owned flagships. The remaining locations are franchised.

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“After five years of excellent partnership with Investindustrial and having made the first step of the huge renewal of the company, myself and the rest of the management team now welcome FFG as the new owner,” Sergio Rossi CEO Riccardo Sciutto said in a statement. “We are excited about Sergio Rossi’s future growth prospects supported by new collections that will be unveiled, the fast-growing market in which our brand is appealing to, and FFG as new partner to sustain us on this thrilling journey.”

Fosun Fashion Group announced plans to acquire Sergio Rossi from Investindustrial

The acquisition comes little more than a year after the death of Sergio Rossi’s founder. The 85-year-old shoemaker died of complications related to Covid-19.

The Sergio Rossi acquisition is not the only move FFG has made in recent months to capitalize on emerging luxury demand in China. In April, it announced it had formed a strategic alliance with Baozun, a leading brand e-commerce service partner in the country; Activation Group, an integrated marketing solutions provider for global luxury brands in China; and other retail and supply chain partners. As part of the agreement, Activation and Baozun both became minority shareholders in FFG. The company described the new alliance as “the first step in a deeper and broader long-term relationship” with its new partners.

FFG parent company Fosun has invested in and grown businesses across a diverse spectrum of industries, including tourism, sport, entertainment, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and insurance. It claims to operate in more than 20 countries and manage more than $117 billion in total assets.