Blog: Li & Fung sets sights on Europe

Joe Ayling | 1 March 2010

Sourcing giant Li & Fung further strengthened its own portfolio at the end of last week, when it acquired private-label apparel supplier Visage Group.

The deal is a further sign of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung's intention to grow a stable of worldwide businesses in addition to its sourcing activities for major brands and retailers.

It follows recent acquisitions of US-based children's wear maker Wear Me Apparel and handbag importer Van Zeeland.

That is not to say Li & Fung is letting up on sourcing by any means, having inked important supply chain deals with US retailers including The Talbots, Hudson's Bay, Liz Claiborne and Wal-Mart in the past year alone.

Li & Fung will pay up to GBP173m (US$264m) for UK-based Visage, which designs, imports and distributes fashion wear.

Visage, which operates in Manchester, employs over 500 people and in 2009 posted 16% turnover growth to GBP190m for the full fiscal year. It also has branches in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dhaka and Delhi, aligning it well with Li & Fung's existing global network.

More importantly though, the Visage acquisition fits with Li & Fung's strategy of boosting its onshore presence in Europe. "This acquisition dramatically strengthens LF Europe's growth platform," says Li & Fung president Bruce Rockowitz.

Meanwhile, global retailer Gap Inc also announced investments in a European market last week, planning its first stores in Italy. The foray will see Gap and Banana Republic flagship stores open side by side in Milan this year.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.


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