Haute couture house Ralph & Russo has been acquired by Radio Shack, owner of Pier 1

What do Pier 1, Radio Shack, Stein Mart, Dress Barn and now Ralph & Russo have in common? They are all currently owned by Retail Ecommerce Ventures. Following Ralph & Russo’s announcement in March that it was going into administration to ‘restructure the business and ensure its continued success’, the London-based fashion house has been acquired for an undisclosed sum. by Retail Ecommerce Ventures, which has easily recovered failed brands since its launch in 2019, continuing what the Miami-based company calls a “strong track record of acquiring and growing iconic retail brands at scale.” world”.

In a statement released Thursday, Retail Ecommerce Ventures (“REV”) disclosed that it had taken a majority stake in Ralph & Russo following “an extensive and protracted sales process that generated immense global interest and led to many parties to submit offers. Media reported this spring that “a handful of buyers from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar” were among those interested in the prestigious fashion company. Given Ralph & Russo’s business footprint in Doha and Dubai, and the presence of “Middle Eastern royal families and high net worth individuals” in the region on its client list, Arabian Business said in April that “it is not surprising that much of the main interest in acquiring the company comes from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that potential buyers were likely to include “rival fashion houses, sovereign wealth funds, private equity firms and ultra-wealthy individuals.” Likely not on the obvious list of acquirers: REV, the now owner of a number of struggling US retail names, such as Pier 1, Stein Mart and Radio Shack.

Speaking about REV’s plans for the 15-year-old fashion brand, the company’s executive chairman, Tai Lopez, said Ralph & Russo – which generated £15.2million in revenue and a loss of £14.8m for the financial year ending March 31, 2019 – is a “globally recognized brand with a unique position in the luxury sector and significant brand affinity”. With REV’s investment, he says “there is enormous potential” for Ralph & Russo “to maintain and grow its market leadership position at the cutting edge of luxury design.”

Founded in London in 2006 by Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, Ralph & Russo quickly grew from a boutique for two to a globally recognized couture designer and the first British fashion house to be invited to participate in the Paris couture shows in a century. “We had some very high-profile private clients early on and those few ladies raved about the work to their friends and it grew very quickly,” Ms. Ralph told Blouin ArtInfo in 2015. Angelina Jolie, who ” began wearing some of their designs to important events, including her visit to Buckingham Palace to receive an honor from the Queen.” Fast forward and Ms Ralph and Mr Russo, a former couple, had amassed an astounding list of private clients, including, of course, Meghan Markle, who wore one of the brand’s dresses for her official engagement photos in 2017.

The burgeoning young company’s big expansion plan – which included a partially completed plan to expand beyond its two walk-in homes in London and Paris into retail outlets in Doha, Miami, New York, Monte Carlo, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and Dubai – was ultimately interrupted by pandemic-related difficulties. Ms Ralph revealed in March that ‘unprecedented business conditions throughout the pandemic’ had put ‘enormous pressure’ on the company, which was best known for its hugely expensive custom designs but has since expanded ready-to-wear offerings, as well as shoes, handbags and other accessories, which the company sells through its e-commerce site, as well as retailers like Saks, Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi .

Legal issues have also plagued the brand, which was named in a commercial lawsuit in a UK High Court earlier this year by Nick Candy’s Candy Ventures. The case involved the terms of a 17 million pound ($23.4 million) investment in which Candy took a minority stake in the brand.

While Paul Appleton of Begbies Traynor Group, who acted as joint administrator of Ralph & Russo, said this spring that “Tamara Ralph’s creative genius gives this company the potential to be the next Chanel,” Reports suggest the brand’s founders – who aren’t mentioned or mentioned by name in REV’s acquisition announcement – ​​will have little (if any) role going forward. Since REV prides itself on “transforming[ing] from well-known undervalued retail brands to e-commerce success stories,” Ralph & Russo’s future is sure to be a little different than it was before. In light of REV’s lack of experience in the high fashion arena, and without the involvement of Ms. Ralph and Mr. Russo, the focus will almost certainly be on the brand’s most accessible offerings and offered in digital form, it’s safe to assume his reign as a couture purveyor is coming to an end.