U.S.-based footwear holding company StreetTrend LLC and Italian based Investment firm Panda srl. announced the acquisition of a majority interest in the luxury Italian sneaker and footwear brand P448.
Leadership at the two firms, Wayne Kulkin, chairman at StreetTrend LLC and Paolo Griffo, CEO at Panda srl., indicated that the private transaction was completed as a joint venture agreement to purchase all P448 creative design, manufacturing operations and brand assets at the Forli, Italy based company. The original founders of the P448 business, Marco Simone and Andrea Curtis, will remain with the company and maintain an equity stake in the business which they launched in 2014 with a mission to design, manufacture and market a line of luxury fashion sneakers and footwear around the world.
Since the 2014 introduction, the founders successfully expanded the P448 business, delivering year-over-year sales growth of more than 50 percent per year. Founder Marco Simone said, “The sales growth reflects a high consumer demand for our unique Italian-made luxury styles and craftsmanship at affordable prices.”
The P448 brand currently has a global distribution footprint which StreetTrend has helped to expand.
In 2017, as Kulkin was launching StreetTrend LLC, he signed an exclusive distribution and marketing agreement with P448 covering several of its largest markets. Kulkin said, “When we launched StreetTrend last year it was very clear that we had to include P448 in our portfolio of luxury sneakers. The feedback about the product design and quality coming out of Europe was amazing, and I was thrilled to sign an exclusive distribution agreement to market the brand in North America, the U.K., Hong Kong and China to name a few.”
Kulkin indicated that P448 distribution and sales in the U.S. through his company StreetTrend LLC have exceeded all expectations in the first year. Kulkin said, “The P448 brand has already gained a strong following in the U.S., and we’ve quickly developed a reputation among both retailers and shoppers for delivering exciting styles with ‘handmade’ quality and craftmanship and fashionable looks that reflect Italian streetwear trends that leverage unique colors and textures.”
Kulkin, a veteran in the global footwear industry (previously having served as CEO at Stuart Weitzman for more than 25 years), launched StreetTrend LLC as a brand portfolio holding company in 2017 in partnership with Jeffrey Hecktman, chairman and CEO of the global investment and financial services company Hilco Global, a firm with holdings in several retail and fashion brands. StreetTrend is currently designing, distributing and selling several footwear brands, including P448 luxury sneakers; PS821 Limited Edition Sneakers and Meline at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and other retailers and online at SneakerGPS.com orSneakerGPS.comhttp://SneakerGPS.com.
With the StreetTrend/Panda joint venture transaction completed, the new P448 management team will be led by Paolo Griffo, who will serve as P448 CEO; Wayne Kulkin will serve as P448 non-executive chairman and P448 original founders Marco Simone and Andrea Curtis will serve as co-creative and design directors.
As CEO of P448, Paolo Griffo will oversee operations for the company while continuing to run Panda, the private investment firm which he founded in Milan, Italy in 2015. Panda currently has substantial holdings and investments across multiple asset categories including renewable energy; digital and database; medical/dental, food/restaurant and retail businesses in footwear, fragrance and fashion. Griffo has significant experience in the retail apparel and fashion business with investments that include companies such as Equivalenza Perfumes, Velasca Shoes, La Passione Athletic/Cycling apparel and Terranova Apparel.
Griffo shared plans for a robust expansion of the P448 e-commerce business, and indicated that the company will launch a limited number of experiential stores in the U.S. and Canada in 2019. Griffo said, “The company will continue to grow by being innovative and executing on our vision of offering a unique Italian spin on shoes that reflect streetwear, including looks that capture the surf, skate and music culture.”
Griffo also announced that it will open a new P448 showroom in Milan, Italy at the famed Palazzo Serbelloni in October 2018, which will serve as the sister showroom to the New York City Showroom in the famed garment district.
Photo courtesy P448