Following the big new of Supreme opening a new location in Brooklyn, news has emerged that private equity company The Carlyle Group have agreed to a deal to invest in the New York retailer.
“We’re a growing brand, and to sustain that growth we’ve chosen to work with Carlyle, who has the operational expertise needed to keep us on the steady path we’ve been on since 1994,” said founder James Jebbia in a statement to Business of Fashion. “Working with Carlyle allows us to concentrate on doing what we do best and remain in control of our brand, as we always have.”
The terms of the transaction were undisclosed, but Jebbia’s statement suggests the private equity firm has taken a minority stake in the business. Prior to Carlyle, Supreme had taken outside investment from Goode Partners and rumors have been circulating for the past year the brand was looking for a buyer. In February 2017, talk surfaced Supreme would be purchased by Louis Vuitton, a rumor that turned out to be false.
According to WWD, the deal is be part of Washington-based Carlyle’s sixth U.S. buyout fund, a massive $13 billion pool of money being used to make investment in the consumer space as well as other sectors. Prior investments made by the firm include skin-care brand Philosophy (sold to Coty Inc. in 2010), Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s Beats by Dre (sold to Apple in 2014) and hair-care player Vogue International (sold to Johnson & Johnson last year).
Carlyle’s managing director of retail and consumer is Jay Sammons, who told WWD earlier this year he’s looking for “businesses or business models or brands that are going to endure for a very long period of time.
“There’s a big market-share shift away from what I would refer to as traditional retail into modern retail,” Sammons said. “Modern retail is going to be very important, and it can be brick-and-mortar and it can be ecommerce.
Founded by James Jebbia in 1994 with a single store in SoHo, the brand now has two New York stores, plus stores in Los Angeles, London, Paris, along with six locations in Japan. Outside of the stores and the website, the product is available at wholesale only at Dover Street Market.
In a GQ article, Jebbia said the Brooklyn store was opened to accommodate more people, stating, “It shouldn’t be so difficult for people to come into our shops. We just want to have a space that, on a Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday, people can just come to and walk in and check out our stuff.”
Angelo Baque, a former brand director who still works with Supreme, echoed Jebbia’s comments, telling WWD, “The truth is we maxed out on the Manhattan space. We were at capacity.”