City Figures To Back New Tamara Mellon Brand
Tamara Mellon, the businesswoman who built Jimmy Choo into a globally-prominent fashion brand, is plotting a $25m comeback that will see her name adorning stores in leading cities around the world.
Sky News can exclusively reveal that Ms Mellon has lined up figures including Michael Spencer, the boss of broking firm Icap and former Conservative Party treasurer, and Tommy Hilfiger, the tycoon behind the eponymous fashion business, as investors in her new business.
Expected to be called Tamara Mellon, her lifestyle business will mark an ambitious return to the business world 15 months after she left Jimmy Choo. A non-compete agreement signed when she departed expires this month.
Ms Mellon has set her sights on securing the funds in the hope of replicating her success at the maker of upmarket women's footwear.
Her other backers will include David Ross, co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse, Lord Marland, who recently stepped down as a trade minister in the Coalition government, and Tory Burch, the fashion entrepreneur who is a close friend of Ms Mellon's.
People close to the fundraising said that Ms Mellon was keen to secure a significant amount of British investment for her new venture.
Although she now lives in the US, Ms Mellon is a British citizen and remains a Business Ambassador for the Government, which involved promoting British trade on overseas visits. She also sits on the board of Revlon, the global cosmetics group.
WH Ireland, the City broking firm, is believed to have been assembling the fundraising for Ms Mellon, which is at an advanced stage.
The new venture is understood to include plans for flagship stores selling a wide range of upmarket fashion and other products in London, Los Angeles and New York, with further openings likely as the business expands.
City sources said the fundraising deal could be announced within the next few weeks.
Ms Mellon's track record is impressive, having walked away from Jimmy Choo with an £85m fortune following its sale to Labelux, the Swiss-based fashion label collection, in 2011.
In an interview with The Sunday Times last year, Ms Mellon was candid about leaving the company she had founded and worked for since 1996.
"I didn't like the equity plan that had been put in place. The management team were asked to invest their own money in the business and hold their shares for seven years, which would then be subject to income tax and not come under capital gains. I felt it was unfair," she told the newspaper.
Ms Mellon began her fashion career from the modest foundation of a stall on Portobello Road in London, where she sold T-shirts. She later worked at the UK edition of Vogue magazine, where she met Jimmy Choo, a Malaysian-born Hackney cobbler. She went into business with him, launching a store in Knightsbridge.
The company was a huge success, making big returns for a succession of private equity-owners, although Ms Mellon has since been critical of the buyout industry, telling another newspaper last year:
"What happens in private equity is they come in and they say we're going to be a great partner. We want to hold this long term and we're going to help you nurture and build this brand, [but] the day after signing, they talked about selling the business."
A spokesman for Ms Mellon declined to comment.