Proenza Schouler Sells Minority Stake as CEO Exits

Outgoing CEO Shirley Cook has been with the brand since the very beginning.
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Chantal Fernandez
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Outgoing CEO Shirley Cook has been with the brand since the very beginning.
Shirley Cook, Jack McCollough, Victoria Traina, Lauren Santo Domingo and Lazaro Hernandez at the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards: Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Shirley Cook, Jack McCollough, Victoria Traina, Lauren Santo Domingo and Lazaro Hernandez at the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards: Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Proenza Schouler is opening a new chapter.

On Monday, Boston-based private equity firm Castanea Partners announced that it has bought a minority stake in the 13-year-old fashion label. As a part of the deal, co-founding CEO Shirley Cook is exiting. Castanea Operating Partner Ron Frasch is assuming the role on an interim basis.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but according to the firm, it typically invests between $15 million and $75 million of equity in businesses where it has "significant operating and investing expertise." All of Proenza Schouler's earlier investors are staying with the company. 

Frasch, who served as president of Saks Fifth Avenue until it was acquired by Hudson's Bay Company in 2013, and Castanea Managing Partner Brian Knez, are joining the company's board. They will operate alongside existing board members Andrew Rosen, the founder of Theory; John Howard, chief executive of Irving Place Capital; and former Burberry CEO Rose Marie Bravo, an early mentor to the brand. 

Rumors that Proenza Schouler was courting additional investment have been bouncing around for a year. Last August, LVMH was said to be in talks to buy out Theory founder Andrew Rosen's shares in the company, but nothing came of them. In May, WWD reported that Castanea Partners was seeking to acquire 50 percent of Proenza Schouler from Rosen and other investors.

"We are very excited to embark on this new chapter with the help of Castanea Partners," designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez said in a statement. "They have a deep understanding of the business and a great respect for our creative vision. Together, we are committed to realizing our dream and to developing the Proenza Schouler brand globally."