Cosabella has a new home.
The U.S.-based lingerie and loungewear brand, which has roots in Italy, has been bought by the Calida Group for $80 million. The deal allows the Swiss holding company to strengthen its position in the growing U.S. intimates market with its innerwear businesses — Aubade, Elrich and On My Skin, in addition to the nameplate brand — while Cosabella expands in Europe.
“We were always looking for the bridge of how to connect Europe and the United States and to do so successfully,” Guido Campello, whose title will shift to managing director of Cosabella, told WWD. “This partnership in particular really allows us to help grow Calida’s brands in the U.S. Their presence here is still quite minimal. So I can help lead them on the U.S. side and they can help us really build out the European side.”
Timo Schmidt-Eisenhart, chief executive officer of the Calida Group, added in a statement: “We are very pleased to have the internationally recognized Cosabella brand enhancing our product offerings in our core segment of lingerie and underwear. With our long-standing brand expertise, we will strengthen the awareness of Cosabella as a popular lingerie brand in Europe and at the same time will benefit from Cosabella’s U.S. market knowledge. Additionally, Cosabella provides an ideal hub to launch our brands Calida and Aubade in the U.S. market as an added value to this deal. With the Cosabella team’s expertise and experience in this market, we will drive the group’s geographical expansion forward strategically and create further consolidation opportunities in the underwear market. We warmly welcome our Cosabella colleagues and are looking forward to a fruitful partnership.”
The partnership will leverage physical stores and digital operations, both Stateside and in Europe, to grow brand awareness across the portfolio. That includes Calida’s retail fleet of 158 stores worldwide, e-commerce businesses and wholesale partners.
“[Calida] has shops-in-shop; they have their own stores. They’re very well-positioned,” Campello said. “So there will be different ways that we expose Cosabella.”
Meanwhile, Campello and the Cosabella team — which includes sister Silvia Campello, who will take the title of vice president of finance and operations — will help Calida grow its U.S. presence by forming wholesale partners for the company’s brands in the U.S. Both Campellos will report directly to Schmidt-Eisenhart.
“We are going to be looking at 2023, starting to really build out some spaces in some of the retailers [for Calida’s other brands],” Guido Campello said. “We’re going to take a measured approach and look at the department stores and some of the bigger stores that can absolutely have a presence in and we can partner with. Ultimately, [Calida] is an omnichannel group that strongly believes that digital and stores should work hand-in-hand.”
The transaction, which gives Calida a 100 percent controlling stake in Cosabella, is expected to close this month.
Cosabella was founded as a lingerie brand in 1983 by Campello’s parents, Valeria and Ugo Campello, who are originally from Italy. The brand entered into rapid expansion mode in 2021, starting with beauty in the spring, followed by swimwear over the summer, then a collection of men’s and gender-neutral lingerie in the fall. The business generated $29 million in total revenues in 2021 and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amoritzation of $4.8 million, as a result.
“The heritage piece was very important for my parents,” Campello said. “Ultimately, Cosabella had a generational shift opportunity. If we hadn’t have found the right partner, we wouldn’t have made this decision.”
Per the terms of the deal, Cosabella will retain its production facilities in Italy, separate from Calida, all of which are contracted.
Campello and his wife Sapna Palep, a dermatologist, are also the owners of lingerie boutique Journelle, which they acquired in 2019 for an undisclosed amount. Journelle is not affiliated with Cosabella or Calida, and Campello and Palep will continue to operate the business separately.
Calida, by contrast, was founded in 1941 by Max Kellenberger and Hans Joachim Palmers and went public on the Swiss Stock Exchange in 1987. The Kellenberger family acquired a majority stake of the business in 2000. Palmers subsequently left the firm.
In 2005, Calida acquired the Aubade brand and has continued to edit its portfolio ever since. Between 2020 and 2021, Calida sold the Eider sportswear brand; a subsidiary of Oxbow, a surf brand, and outdoor apparel and hardware brand Millet Mountain Group.
In addition to its list of intimate apparel brands, Calida owns outdoor furniture brand Lafuma Mobilier and Ros, or Reich Online Solutions, which offers online services for other brands.
In 2021, Calida’s net income grew more than 5 percent year-over-year to 15.2 million Swiss Francs, or about $15.6 million. The company employs roughly 2,400 people.
“With the acquisition of the strong e-commerce brand Cosabella, we continue focusing the Calida Group on its core segment while simultaneously enhancing its online growth,” said Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, chairman of the board of the Calida Group. “This transaction is completely in line with the strategy ‘Accelerate 2026’ and highly accretive for all stakeholders. As a family business, Cosabella shares our group’s values regarding quality, customer service, long-term business development and inclusion.”
Despite the Cosabella acquisition news, shares of Calida Holding AG were down about 2 percent during Thursday’s trading session.
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