Eno Polo, the 49-year-old president of Alpargatas EMEA, has left the Brazilian company to run a new European subsidiary of Global Brands Group (GBG), the New York-based company that started in 2005 as the wholesale business of Li & Fung and was spun off more than four years ago to develop brands and licensing operations.
This former manager of Nike, with which he worked in marketing and general management for 13 years, spent the last eight years building up Havaianas' brand position and its business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The operation is profitable, with an annual turnover of nearly $100 million. He has not yet been replaced in this position.
Polo has already moved with his family from Madrid, where Alpargatas EMEA is based, to London, where GBG's new subsidiary occupies the premises of a recently acquired business, Fashion Lab. As managing director of GBG Europe, his first task will be to put together a European structure and team to manage the group's numerous properties, starting with the coordination of more than 600 character licenses for children's apparel, footwear and other products recently taken over in three European countries. Other properties will follow.
GBG owns some brands, and manages or licenses others. The business is divided into four “verticals”: kids, footwear & accessories, men's and women's fashion, and brand management. Kids represents about 44 percent of its total sales, and it includes licenses for Under Armour, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Nautica.
In the sporting goods sector, GBG stands out as the owner of Spyder Active Sports since 2013. GBG has taken Spyder to South Korea in view of the 2018 Winter Olympics and diversified its product range for the fashion segment of that market, targeting the Asian market at large. It is developing its capabilities in e-commerce.
GBG also manages the intellectual property rights for certain products named after David Beckham and other celebrities including Jennifer Lopez. It is a licensee of Dimensione Danza and Everlast for certain products.. It is a licensee of Calvin Klein for footwear in certain territories.
Besides Spyder, GBG owns Juicy Couture and three brands of footwear and accessories, Fiorelli, Frye and Aquatalia. It has just acquired a majority stake in Sean John, a men's lifestyle brand founded by a hip-hop entrepreneur.
Listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange since July 2014, GBG released a few days ago figures for the first six months of its financial year, ended Sept. 30, which showed a 15.0 percent increase in total revenues to $1,844 million for the period, thanks mainly to organic growth. The gross margin improved to 35.5 percent from 34.1 percent. Core operating earnings increased by 129.9 percent to $78 million and Ebitda went up by 44.09 percent to $179 million. The net profit declined to $7 million from $21 million in the same period a year ago, but on an adjusted basis it rose by more than 300 percent to $44 million.
The North American market represented 81 percent of the total turnover in the first half, Europe and the Middle East 16 percent and Asia 3 percent. The group employs more than 2,600 people in North America and about 600 in Europe and the Middle East. The group's total revenues from controlled brands and long-term licenses expanded by 44.7 percent to $484 million.
Revenues from footwear and accessories rose by 3.4 percent to $595 million during the six-month period. The gross margin improved slightly to 31.9 percent, but the business incurred an operating loss of $7 million due to the addition of new business and investments in Frye and Aquatalia. The number of Frye stores in the U.S. grew to ten from four at the end of 2014.
In August, GBG signed an exclusive deal with Katy Perry to launch a shoe collection that will be available in the U.S. and other foreign markets from next spring. Also, GBG recently signed a U.S. license with Kenneth Cole, which is now private, for handbags as well as men's, women's and children's apparel.