Zimmermann, the hot Australian luxury brand, has changed hands again.
Advent International, one of the world’s largest private equity investors, has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the company. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.
Founded by sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann in 1991 and headquartered in Sydney, Australia, Zimmermann has established a loyal following for its feminine dresses and swimwear that emphasize original prints and color. The company has 58 stand-alone stores across Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and China, along with wholesale distribution in department and specialty stores, online luxury fashion retailers and Zimmermann.com.
Under the terms of the acquisition, Advent will acquire a majority stake in Zimmermann from Style Capital, which together with the Zimmermann family will retain a significant minority shareholding. The founders and the Zimmermann management team will continue to drive the brand’s growth.
Reports in the Australian Financial Review last month about a potential Advent acquisition valued Zimmermann at 1.75 billion Australian dollars, or $1.15 billion at current exchange.
Style Capital, the Milan-based investment fund, acquired a 70 percent stake in Zimmermann in late 2020 for a reported 408 million Australian dollars, or $268.12 million at current exchange, with the Zimmermann family owning 30 percent. As part of that transaction, American private equity firm General Atlantic, which had acquired a minority stake in the brand in 2016, exited the Australian company.
While Zimmermann declined to reveal its current volume, last year the company said that global topline sales increased an average of just over 30 percent each year over the past five years. Industry sources have estimated Zimmermann’s annual revenue at 400 million Australian dollars, or $263 million at current exchange, and 125 million Australian dollars, or $82.2 million, in earnings before interest and taxes.
At the time of Style Capital’s acquisition, the company said its strategy was to help Zimmermann’s global trajectory with a focus on European and Asian retail markets; digital growth; increasing its wholesale footprint, and expanding into new categories.
Style Capital’s portfolio includes L.A.-based denim brand Re/Done and two Italian labels, Forte Forte and MSGM.
The investment from Advent looks to take that strategy further, allowing Zimmermann to build on its strong multidecade performance by accelerating the brand’s international expansion in existing and new key luxury markets, such as Asia and the Middle East; to further expand its product categories and accessories, and strengthen its online and omnichannel presence.
Advent, established in 1984 with $95 billion in assets under management, seeks to leverage its considerable experience within the consumer sector, which includes the June 2023 investment in Parfums de Marly and Initio Parfums Privés, as well as the 2012 investment in Douglas, the Germany-based specialty retailer of premium beauty products, including perfumes; Orveon, owner of the BareMinerals, Buxom and Laura Mercier cosmetics brands acquired in 2021, and Lululemon Athletica, which Advent originally invested in in 2005. Advent first made a minority investment of $74 million in Lululemon, which went public, and by 2009 had sold all its shares, reportedly making about $600 million on its investment. Advent then made another investment in Lululemon in 2014.
Advent also bought Olaplex in 2019 before it spun it out in an initial public offering in 2021, giving the beauty company a reported valuation of $16 billion at the time, as reported.
In revealing the Zimmermann news, Ranjan Sen, managing partner at Advent International, said, “Zimmermann presents a rare and exciting opportunity to acquire a fast-growing iconic luxury fashion brand with significant potential for further expansion. The Zimmermann team has successfully created a distinctive and desirable global luxury brand, which has built a loyal customer base around the world. We look forward to supporting the management team around the CEO, Chris Olliver, and Nicky and Simone Zimmermann, to help build on the company’s strong foundations and deliver superior continuous growth.”
Olliver added, “We welcome Advent as a successful global and like-minded investor. They bring proven experience supporting luxury brands in taking this next step and we are thrilled by the opportunity to work together.”
Nicky Zimmermann, chief creative officer and cofounder, said, “We are really excited to partner with the teams at Advent and Style Capital as we continue on our journey to build a unique global luxury brand from Australia. There are so many exciting opportunities for Zimmermann ahead and Simone and I feel extremely fortunate to be going on this journey with our team, one that started nearly 30 years ago at Paddington Markets in Sydney. For us, the opportunity to work alongside so many talented and passionate people each day is a privilege and there is so much we want to achieve together. We look forward to working collaboratively with our new partners to achieve our shared ambitions for the brand, with our loyal clients at the center of that vision.”
Roberta Benaglia, CEO of Style Capital, added, “We are delighted to partner with Advent and to continue to support the Zimmermann team. Early in our conversations with the Advent team, it became clear that they recognized the considerable potential within the brand and shared a common vision for further expansion over the long term.”
Since its establishment in 1984, Advent has invested in more than 410 private equity investments across 42 countries. The firm focuses on investments in five core sectors — business and financial services; health care; industrial; retail, consumer and leisure, and technology.
Arguably one of Australian fashion’s biggest success stories, Zimmermann began in Sydney with Nicky Zimmermann designing dresses and selling them at Paddington markets. After getting two pages of editorial in Australian Vogue, she started to receive orders for the dresses from boutiques around Australia and opened a small store in Darlinghurst. In 1991, her sister Simone, cofounder and chief operating officer, joined the company, and together they began building the brand. Zimmermann’s dresses became recognizable for their flowy chiffon fabrics, use of ruching, tulle, colors and prints. Over the years, their fan base has grown to include fellow Aussie Margot Robbie, Kendall Jenner, Katie Holmes, Laura Dern, Beyoncé and Kate Middleton.
Today, Zimmermann has been aggressively opening freestanding stores around the world, with 22 stores in the U.S., 20 in Australia and 14 in the U.K. and E.U.. In the U.S., stores are in such locations as SoHo, Meatpacking District, Madison Avenue, East Hampton, Southampton, and Americana Manhasset in New York; Atlanta; the Miami Design District, Bal Harbour and Palm Beach in Florida; Dallas and Houston in Texas; Honolulu; Melrose Place in Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Internationally stores have popped up in cities such as London; Paris, Cannes and Saint-Tropez in France; Milan, Florence and Capri in Italy; Madrid; and Shanghai.
Zimmermann’s products run the gamut from ready-to-wear, including dresses, knitwear, denim, skirts, pants, tops, outerwear, jumpsuits, and T-shirts, to swimwear, shoes, accessories, jewelry and kids’.