Tag Archives: Retail; Acquisitions; Buying; Strategy; Market Analysis; Kate Spade

To buy well, apply classic considerations, not passing fashions

News that Kate Spade is potentially up for sale should trigger some interest;


Brick & Mortar enterprises remain relevant, especially in fashion, and Kate Spade may be better off -and more successful- if not a solo act eg as a part of Coach, Michael Kors, PVH, VF Corp, or another firm. Who might be interested in buying, and why? Those are 2 separate questions, as different suitors (given each of their own unique situations) may find different aspects of KS to be appealing and different aspects of KS’s shortcomings to be of concern.

One might think of a Buying Analysis as a score-sheet: after a suitor reviews one’s own strategy, cash situation & ‘organic’ growth potential vs their expected grossed-up potential with KS added in, then they should also consider:

  • what is  the Buyer-Target synergy & skill-set fit? (in this case eg Buying savvy; global expansion savvy; the contacts & expertise for strategic, low risk Licensing in other categories, etc);
  • the incremental customer potential;
  • the global sales growth potential;
  • circumstances (media, markets- malls, cities, regions, nations), demographic or psychographic targets…) where the combined assets give a firm ‘next step up’ critical mass in eg operations, manufacturing, negotiating, talent acquisition/management, etc.

Of course, this simple list conceals a ton of ‘due diligence’ complexity- eg some Suitors may be better able than others to get supplier leverage or licensing leverage for KS; some may be better able to house KS as a co-brand within existing real estate; etc, etc, etc.

Still, though each Suitor’s score-sheet will value the same acquisition differently, imo an EXTRA step a suitor should consider is: What happens if I don’t buy it, but a direct or indirect competitor does? That may sound dog-in-the-manger immature, but it’s a worthy exercise, and especially worth objectively looking at ‘What If’ scenarios. For example: LinkedIn allowed Microsoft buy Skype – imo a major miss –> LinkedIn lost a chance to facilitate Business connections & MS immediately won an appealing instant following & credibility. Apple let former Apple staffers create the Nest thermostat, then let Google buy Nest, effectively leaving the usually visionary Cupertino firm in last-in status in Home Nerve Center category. On the other hand, when Nokia was seeking a Suitor, Microsoft’s competitors rightfully snickered when MS bought them, since Nokia had no proprietary/property edge and since its brand equity & following were consumer focused, not business focused —> just buying hardware will not instantly evolve a B2B marketer into an end consumer marketing expert….

Which leaves me asking: if you can assess a scenario in which a potential competitor buys an asset, can you also create a sense of inflated value, or hype, etc to get a competitor to waste attention & resources on a lame duck? Or can you convince them that your ‘Star’ or ticket to growth, is in fact a lame duck? [ I’m going to put this thought on ‘pause’ and re-watch 2014’s underappreciated and seemingly unrealistic sports film, ‘Draft Day’]