L Catterton Asia invests in Gentle Monster

Gentle Monster's store in Shanghai. The South Korean eyewear brand will open its first South-east Asian flagship store in Singapore at Ion Orchard this month.
Gentle Monster's store in Shanghai. The South Korean eyewear brand will open its first South-east Asian flagship store in Singapore at Ion Orchard this month.PHOTO: GENTLE MONSTER
Gentle Monster's store in Shanghai. The South Korean eyewear brand will open its first South-east Asian flagship store in Singapore at Ion Orchard this month.
L Catterton Asia chairman and managing partner Ravi Thakran

Singapore-based L Catterton Asia, a consumer-focused private equity firm, is investing in a South Korean designer eyewear firm whose sunglasses are a hit with Korean and Hollywood celebrities.

L Catterton Asia announced yesterday it is leading a consortium, including Groupe Arnault, which is acquiring a minority equity stake in Iicombined, the owner of brand Gentle Monster.

Groupe Arnault is owned and controlled by French billionaire Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy. The investment amount was not disclosed.

Gentle Monster, known for its glamorous sunglasses with bold frames, is popular among celebrities and trendsetters.

The South Korean eyewear brand will open its first South-east Asian flagship store in Singapore at Ion Orchard this month.

It is already in more than 19 countries and has 11 standalone stores around the world, in countries such as the United States and China.

Gentle Monster co-founder and chief executive Kim Hankook said: "In a time where Gentle Monster is progressing into a global fashion eyewear brand, we are honoured to partner with L Catterton Asia and Groupe Arnault.

"We already have a presence in Greater China and America and plan to further expand our footprint into Europe and the Middle East."

STRONG GROWTH POTENTIAL

Gentle Monster is already outselling more established competitors, delivering retail productivity on a par with or better than many luxury brands.

L CATTERTON ASIA CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING PARTNER RAVI THAKRAN

L Catterton Asia - previously known as L Capital Asia - was set up in 2009, and manages more than US$1.6 billion (S$2.1 billion) across two private equity funds, and more than US$2 billion that includes co-investments.

Its other investments include food and beverage brand Crystal Jade and YG Entertainment, which is behind famous South Korean stars such as Psy and Big Bang.

L Catterton Asia chairman and managing partner Ravi Thakran said: "Gentle Monster is already outselling more established competitors, delivering retail productivity on a par with or better than many luxury brands.

"Given the relatively low penetration rates for sunglasses across most Asian markets, and Gentle Monster's success in addressing the unique needs of Asian consumers, we see strong growth potential for the company."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'L Catterton Asia invests in Gentle Monster'. Print Edition | Subscribe