The Agnelli family, owners of Italian icons Ferrari and Juventus football club, is acquiring a 24 percent stake in French high-fashion brand Christian Louboutin, renowned for its sky-high red-soled footwear.
According to a joint statement, a $642 million investment is being made in Louboutin through Agnelli’s Exor holding company which will give the family two out of seven seats on the board.
Experts suggest that the investment may be a touch call for Exor but if the holding company can capitalize on a rebounding footwear market, it could bring huge profits.
Half of Louboutin’s sales from women’s styles come from its high-end stiletto footwear, which faced a plunge during pandemic-induced closures and stay-at-home orders. Although the demand for heels is bouncing back, especially in the US, nearly 20 percent of the brand’s stores are still closed due to local lockdowns.
“Exor’s commitment to building great companies makes it an excellent partner for Christian Louboutin at a moment when this established brand is poised to capture significant new opportunities,” the statement said. Neither Exor nor Louboutin have revealed the shoe maker’s sales or profits.
While Louboutin is best known for its heels, the company has significantly broadened its product range over recent years. The other half of its women’s shoe lines comprises low heels or flats, including sneakers, and it has also gained a significant space in men’s and children’s styles.
The shoemaker has already shown it can widen its brand into other areas, by launching its handbag collection and in 2014, its own beauty product range. It expected that the trend toward luxury experiences could open up additional opportunities such as branded hotels.
More than the eCommerce sales, Louboutin further has scope to make more from its strong positions in the US and Europe. The brand also has room to expand its presence in China, where demand for high-end goods is surging.
Exor is also eyeing the Chinese market for its burgeoning portfolio of luxury companies. Last year December it became the majority shareholder in Shang Xia, the Chinese luxury brand that was backed by Hermes International.
One of the oldest and largest holding companies in Europe, Exor is managing assets estimated to be worth $29 billion which include PartnerRe, Ferrari, Stellantis, CNH Industrial, GEDI Gruppo Editoriale, Juventus FC, Shang Xia and The Economist Group.