Cana­dian shoe­maker Aldo buy­ing Ca­muto

Big step for pri­vate Montreal firm, which al­ready has 3,000 world lo­ca­tions

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - DAVID GELLES

Aldo, the pri­vately held Cana­dian shoe com­pany, has agreed to ac­quire the footwear and ac­ces­sories oper­a­tions of the Ca­muto Group, the Amer­i­can com­pany founded by the fash­ion im­pre­sario Vince Ca­muto, who died in 2015.

The takeover will give Aldo, which makes its own shoes and sells them in thou­sands of stores around the world, a big­ger foot­print at a mo­ment when fash­ion brands are seek­ing growth through merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions. Terms of the deal, which was con­firmed by the com­pa­nies, were not made pub­lic.

“This will cre­ate a very im­pres­sive, large and scaled footwear op­er­a­tion,” said Wil­liam Sus­man, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Thread­stone, a bou­tique in­vest­ment bank that spe­cial­izes in con­sumer and re­tail trans­ac­tions but is not in­volved in the deal. “And given trends in re­tail, I be­lieve that ben­e­fits ac­crue to those with scale.”

Aldo’s takeover of the Vince Ca­muto brand is the lat­est trans­ac­tion to re­shape the fash­ion in­dus­try. Last week, Michael Kors said it would ac­quire Jimmy Choo for about $1.2 bil­lion. And in May, Coach agreed to pay $2.4 bil­lion to ac­quire Kate Spade.

Aldo, based in Montreal, was founded in 1972 by Aldo Ben­sadoun, the “son of a shoe mer­chant, grand­son of a cob­bler,” ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s website.

Ben­sadoun, now 78, has re­tired and the com­pany is run by his son, David. But the el­der Ben­sadoun is still in­volved in the busi­ness. Ear­lier this year, he took the first meet­ing with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Ca­muto Group to dis­cuss a deal.

Aldo opened its first store in the United States in 1993, and now sells shoes in more than 3,000 lo­ca­tions world­wide. The com­pany says that it em­ploys more than 20,000 peo­ple and that more than 200 mil­lion peo­ple visit its stores each year. David Ben­sadoun, Aldo’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said the com­pany has about $1.5 bil­lion in sales an­nu­ally.

The Ca­muto Group was founded by Ca­muto, a quiet force in the fash­ion in­dus­try who founded the women’s footwear chain Nine West, and has col­lab­o­rated with Ba­nana Re­pub­lic, BCBG and more.

The Vince Ca­muto brand sells men’s and women’s shoes, bags, cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories. The Ca­muto Group, based in Green­wich, Conn., also pro­duces shoes and ap­parel for brands in­clud­ing the Jes­sica Simp­son Collection, Tory Burch and Lucky Brand Jeans. Ca­muto’s fam­ily will con­tinue to own and op­er­ate the ap­parel busi­ness.

Aldo has been on the hunt for a way to ex­pand, said David Ben­sadoun.

“We’ve been look­ing for an ac­qui­si­tion tar­get for 18 months, and Ca­muto was the best fit,” he said.

Ben­sadoun said the com­pany in­tended to keep the brands sep­a­rate, so there are no plans to sell Vince Ca­muto items in Aldo stores.

For the Ca­muto Group, the deal is a chance for the fam­ily to cash out. Ca­muto’s five chil­dren in­her­ited the busi­ness af­ter his death, and they were not in­ter­ested in op­er­at­ing the com­pany.

“We had a share­holder base that re­ally wasn’t in­volved in the busi­ness,” said Alex Del Cielo, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Ca­muto Group, who will re­main in his role and re­port to Ben­sadoun. “It was an op­por­tu­nity for them to move on from the busi­ness and mon­e­tize their as­sets.”

Even as Aldo expands with this deal, Ben­sadoun said the com­pany had no am­bi­tions to join the ranks of the pub­licly traded com­pa­nies.

“We will never go pub­lic,” he said.

TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Vince Ca­muto of Con­necti­cut has been bought by Montreal’s pri­vate shoe de­signer and man­u­fac­turer Aldo.

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