TOKYO - Japanese retailer Onward Holdings is selling its loss-making Jil Sander brand to Italian luxury conglomerate OTB, which will add the label to a collection that includes Diesel, Maison Margiela and Marni. Onward, which bought the Jil Sander brand for about $244 million in 2008, said in a Tokyo Stock Exchange release on Friday that the subsidiary recorded a loss of 17.8 million euros ($21.22 million) in the year through February 2020. The company, which depends heavily on sales at Japanese department stores and has struggled with pandemic-related closures and weak consumer spending, said it aimed to shore up its finances by exiting the Jil Sander business. OTB chairman Renzo Rosso said he had always admired and respected Jil Sander since the fashion house was established by the eponymous German designer in 1968. The brand was bought by Prada in 1999 but sold again in 2006. Sander has largely not been involved with the label since 2004. "Despite the changes of ownership and creative direction, the house has always stayed true to its founder's vision, maintaining an absolute commitment to beauty, quality, and its signature minimalist approach," Rosso said in a statement. Onward did not disclose the sale price in the deal with closely-held OTB, citing confidentiality. OTB's chief executive Ubaldo Minelli told Reuters last month it was eyeing the German label among other brands for a possible acquisition as prices had fallen due to the coronavirus crisis. Minelli said last month there was a window of opportunity as industry multiples were "a little more reasonable" than the had been before the COVID-19 pandemic. OTB's revenues fell 14% to 1.32 billion euros last year, a less severe drop than suffered by many of its competitors. Core earnings, or EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), fell by 7% to 176 million euros. REUTERS
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