Michael Kors Holdings Limited — now renamed Capri Holdings Limited — plans to build the Versace brand into a $2 billion business.
It’s an ambitious goal that would more than double the company’s current revenue: Versace, which was acquired by Michael Kors on Tuesday, is currently an $850 million business. It fits in line with the overall goals for the global luxury group, now made up of the Michael Kors brand, Jimmy Choo and Versace. Capri plans to drive group revenue to $8 billion. While Michael Kors carries the majority of that weight, with a plan to raise revenue for $4.5 to $5 billion, the company considers Versace to be a “terribly underdeveloped” player in the luxury market. According to Capri CEO John Idol, who spoke to investors on a conference call Tuesday morning to answer questions about the acquisition, the company plans to lead it to “explosive growth.”
The acquisition comes at a time of consolidation for the luxury industry, as standalone brands struggle to adapt to the increasing competitive pressures of the market across supply chain technology, marketing spend and data capabilities. For Michael Kors, its recent acquisition tear was motivated by a push for synergies and efficiencies. While Idol wouldn’t elaborate on specifics, he said the company’s first priority was to use the Versace purchase as an impetus to buy the Italian manufacturers it currently works with, bringing factories in house.
Florence Allday, research analyst at Euromonitor International, said that although Versace has built a reputation as an independent fashion house for the last 40 years, “several years of a difficult global luxury climate, declining growth and stiff competition from brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dior make the sale less surprising.”
Michael Kors didn’t set out a specific timeline to reach Versace’s growth goals, but it laid out a roadmap detailing the strategic initiative behind the dollar figure, which includes bringing Versace’s e-commerce capabilities up to par, focusing in on the accessories business, opening more stores and building a bigger presence in luxury wholesale stores.
Start with product
Under Capri, Versace will remain a “fully luxury business,” according to Idol, who added that focus will first and foremost be on the main Versace collection, not its diffusion line, Versus. In the company’s current lineup, the Michael Kors brand provides the balance of accessibility and luxury, while Jimmy Choo and Versace will be positioned as straight luxury brands.
While Versace’s men’s business, accounting for 50 percent of the company’s revenue, is held up as an existing strength, the biggest opportunity for Versace to grow revenue, the group found, is to focus on building its accessories business. After taking time to develop the product, Idol, along with Versace CEO Jonathan Akeroyd, will focus on handbags, shoes and men’s accessories to be sold in both retail stores and through wholesale partners, delivering return on investment and a better margin for the company.
“We view accessories as having the biggest impact on the business,” said Idol. “With our expertise in the space, we’ll develop product that is customer-led.”
Build a $100 million e-commerce business
Right now, Versace is leaving a lot of online sales on the table. While its website has e-commerce, the brand has focused its efforts on in-store sales instead. Idol said that the double-digit growth in comparative sales over the past year have been driven almost exclusively by Versace stores, as e-commerce is “essentially nonexistent.”
Michael Kors, on the other hand, spent more than $100 million building a global e-commerce platform that also has the capability of operating the e-commerce sites of other brands, which will now include Versace. It does have a leg up: According to data from SimilarWeb, MichaelKors.com received an average of 890,000 monthly visits in the last year, while Versace.com received an average of 170,000 monthly visits in the same timeframe.
The goal for Capri is to grow Versace’s e-commerce into a $100 million business for the brand through improved capabilities around shipping, returns and cross-channel systems, and digital marketing initiatives that will drive customers to the site. “These are disciplines and initiatives we know well at Michael Kors,” said Idol.
Open 100 stores while growing wholesale
Offline, Versace will open 100 new stores, bringing its total store count to approximately 300. While Akeroyd spent the last two years closing underperforming stores, the new store focus will be in regions where Versace has a limited presence, including Japan, South Korea and Germany.
But in a departure from the group’s strategy regarding Michael Kors’ retail distribution — focusing less on wholesale and more on direct sales — Capri sees a current void in luxury department stores when it comes to Versace. The company plans to target a network of “global, 100 percent luxury” retailers that attract a high-spending customer and build a bigger in-store presence there for the Versace brand, particularly around its upcoming accessories push.
“The Michael Kors team can sniff a commercial expansion behind the brand,” said Rony Zeidan, founder of the luxury agency RO NY. “It all starts with the twinkling of interest with the fashionista crowd, [establishing] a laser-eye focus on the brand and then maximizing the commercial success with a broad audience.”