Sycamore Splits Nine West into Four Companies

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Nine West brand accessories

Nine West brand accessories

New York—Just a few short months into ownership of the former Jones Group, Sycamore Partners LLC, the private equity owner, has slipt up Nine West Holdings Inc. into four separate companies.

Under Sycamore’s plans, the new companies will allow each brand focus on its own challenges and potentially make it easier to sell individually in the future. While Nine West mostly sells shoes and handbags, Anne Klein offers a range of women’s apparel, watches and other items. Easy Spirit, meanwhile, focuses on shoes with an emphasis on comfort. Nine West Holdings also has a denim business, One Jeanswear Group, which already operates as a separate company.

There will be a change in leadership as well. As her company splits up, Nine West Footwear Group CEO Kathleen Nedorostek will be stepping down. Former Kohl’s Corp. executive Peggy Eskenasi is now joining Sycamore to help oversee the operations.

New Management Too

“The reorganization of the Nine West Footwear Group will allow each of its individual businesses to better serve their customers and focus on achieving greater efficiency and long-term profitability,” Stefan Kaluzny, a managing director at New York-based Sycamore, said in the statement. “We are excited to have a talented group of executives leading these businesses.”

Sycamore acquired the brands for $2.2 billion as part of its purchase of Jones Group Inc. in April. Since then, it’s been gradually subdividing the sprawling retail business into smaller pieces. Sycamore separated the Stuart Weitzman and Kurt Geiger brands into stand-alone operations, then reorganized the rest of the business into additional companies, including Nine West, Jones New York and the Kasper Group.

The newly organized businesses are: Nine West (which includes the Nine West, Bandolino, Enzo Angiolini and Circa Joan & David brands, and the Handbags division), Easy Spirit, NW Jewelry Group and Anne Klein.

“We are pleased to welcome Peggy and look forward to working closely with her as we continue to focus on acquiring and nurturing leading brands in the consumer and retail sector,” said Kaluzny, a managing director at Sycamore Partners. “Peggy is an accomplished leader in the retail industry with a proven track record of success. With her considerable experience and expertise in marketing and branding, we are confident she will play a meaningful role in helping our portfolio companies reach their full potential.”

Eskenasi, who was senior executive vice president for product development at Kohl’s, will serve as executive chairman of Anne Klein, Easy Spirit and NW Jewelry Group.

With Nedorostek leaving, Andrew Hede will serve as interim chief executive of Nine West. Eric Dauwalter, president of Easy Spirit, and Fran Lukas, president of NW Jewelry, will continue to run those businesses, Sycamore said. Anne Klein will seek a new management team, with Eskenasi leading the recruitment effort.

Sycamore, which raised its first fund in 2011, has scooped up a number of well-known retailers over the past three years, including Talbots and Hot Topic. The firm also provided $150 million in financing this year to Aeropostale Inc.

In June, Sycamore approached Express Inc. about a possible acquisition after buying a 9.9% stake.

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