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Stella McCartney and Kering Are Consciously Uncoupling [UPDATED]

A new report details that the luxury group is selling its 50 percent share of the label back to its namesake designer.
Stella McCartney at her label's Spring 2018 show during Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images

Stella McCartney at her label's Spring 2018 show during Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images

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Stella McCartney's eponymous label is about to become just a little more eponymous, at least on the business side. French luxury group Kering, which has operated the Stella McCartney brand for the last 17 years, is selling its 50 percent share of the label back to its namesake designer, reports Business of Fashion

Though a spokesperson for Stella McCartney did not immediately respond to our request for comment, BoF claims that the announcement was originally slated for early January and is now "imminent," with the Stella McCartney HR team "preparing a booklet outlining the details of the separation to answer outstanding questions and ease employee concerns." Meanwhile, both parties said in a joint statement, issued to BoF, that nothing has been confirmed. The statement reads, in part: "As already stated, as it is customary between stakeholders, there are regular discussions about the future of the partnership. Any significant change to the current relationship would be made public at the appropriate time. Any piece of information circulating to this respect can only be considered as speculation."

While it remains unclear at this time which party initiated the separation, a source close to the matter told BoF that McCartney's father and legendary musician Sir Paul McCartney "has had a role in financing the buy-back," though a spokesperson for the label stated that McCartney's father "has never been involved with the business."

Stella McCartney will also reportedly be enacting a non-compete with Kering's brands — including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga — during the transition from the luxury group, which BoF reports could last as long as two years. For that, Stella McCartney is working with London-based retail consultancy Javelin, which has also worked with the likes of Chanel and Net-a-Porter, to help restructure the business.

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Rumors of the split first began circulating last month, coinciding with reports that conglomerate was trimming down its portfolio — including offloading Puma — to better focus on its megahit brands. But the last few years have been big for McCartney, with her label debuting menswear, launching a rare parternship with The RealReal and even outfitting the future Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

We'll continue to update this post as we learn more.

UPDATE, March 28, 12:15 p.m.: Stella McCartney has bought back her namesake brand from Kering, which owned a 50 percent stake for the past 17 years. According to WWDMcCartney will continue to serve as a board member of the Kering Foundation, as well as collaborate with the French conglomerate on sustainability initiatives. 

"It is the right moment to acquire the full control of the company bearing my name," said McCartney in an official statement provided to Business of Fashion. "This opportunity represents a crucial patrimonial decision for me. I am extremely grateful to Francois-Henri Pinault and his family and everyone at the Kering Group for everything we have built together in the last 17 years. I look forward to the next chapter of my life and what this brand and our team can achieve in the future." 

BoF floated that Paul McCartney may possibly have financed the brand's buyback, but could not independently confirm that. WWD reports that Stella McCartney will not plan for an initial public offering or bring on a new business partner anytime soon. As for Kering, the conglomerate will be busy keeping up with the success from 2017, the most profitable year on record, thanks to its holy trinity of luxury heavyweights Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga.

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