Rumors arose in April that Valentino's parent company Mayhoola, a Qatari investment fund controlled by the country's royal family, had submitted an offer to buy Balmain. On Tuesday, a representative for Balmain confirmed the acquisition and The Guardian and Les Echos report the fund paid €485 million (about $548 million) for the French luxury brand. Balmain was 70 percent controlled by heirs of Alain Hivelin, the former CEO and chairman who turned the company around after almost facing bankruptcy in 2004, hired Creative Director Olivier Rousteing in 2011 and died in 2014.
Balmain does not regularly release financial information, but Les Echos estimated its revenue in 2015 at €120 million (about $136 million), growing from an estimated €30 million (about $34 million) in 2012, according to Business of Fashion. Current CEO Emmanuel Diemoz told BoF in 2015: "Today we have reached a certain level, if we want to go to the next step, definitely we need to have our own network of retail shops." Les Echos reports Balmain is interested in following the success of Valentino, which was acquired by Mayhoola in 2012 and has reached its goal of $1 billion in sales. Expanding store locations is part of that growth, and Valentino has plans to add 20 to 30 store locations in 2016 alone.
Balmain's first US flagship in New York opened in March. "With each collection, interest and sales have grown exponentially," said Diemoz in a release at that time. "But as satisfied as we are with that growth, we've always been frustrated that so much of our collection has been inaccessible to the American shopper." Balmain currently has 17 directly owned stores, according to WWD, which reports the brand has its eye on Los Angeles, Singapore and another Hong Kong location next. Diemoz told WWD on Tuesday that expanding accessories is another priority — they currently account for only 4 percent of the business — and that Rousteing is expanding footwear for 2017.