On April 28, 2017, footwear and apparel retailer Belle International announced a privatization offer for $6.8 billion by a group of buyers led by Hillhouse.
Belle, which distributes some of the biggest names in international sportswear, including Nike, Adidas and Puma, as well as several highly popular Chinese brands that it makes itself, said that the move was a way to increase its competitiveness in the online space. The company had built out a network of more than 20,000 stores in China, and wanted to explore new ways to grow in an era of increased focus on e-commerce.
Hillhouse’s strong operational team and deep knowledge of the e-commerce sector made it an ideal partner for the retailer. Additionally, the management teams at Belle and Hillhouse had long-standing relationships that helped ensure a level of trust critical to a partnership that would work to overhaul its online strategy, and increase the role of technology in its physical stores and logistics chain.
The deal officially closed in the second quarter of 2017.