RAGTRADER:  Tracey McElwdowney

Victorian wholesale group PAS continues to dig deep – into its pockets, that is.

Just two months after acquiring the Chino Kids label, the group has added yet more brands to its burgeoning portfolio, acquiring womenswear chain store Review, accessories company Capelle and licensing brand Fiorelli.

The acquisitions, for undisclosed sums, now help position the company as one of the largest wholesale groups in the country alongside Melbourne-based Pacific Brands and Sydney-based Gazal.

Formalised at the end of last month, the buy-outs take the total number of labels acquired by the two-year-old group to more than 16 – with the bulk of these purchased in the past six months.

Other brands in the stable include Yarra Trail, Breakaway, Marco Polo, World Industries, Anger Management, Bureau and Yvonne Black.

PAS chief executive officer Eric Morris said the group first entered discussions with Review founder Peter Strain, through brokerage firm Terrain Capital, more than a year ago. However, with the chain operating 13 retail stores and 14 Myer concession stores, negotiations were suspended in February as the department store entered its own agreement to sell to eventual purchaser Newbridge Capital.

It is understood agreements with both Capelle – which produces handbags, belts, footwear, luggage and accessories under two labels as well as licensed product for Jag, Diana Ferrari and Blazer – and accessories brand Fiorelli, were wrapped up in less than six months.

As with previous acquisitions, PAS has sought to retain the services of each brand’s key staff with Capelle founder Peter Collins staying on as chief executive officer and Leon Pendergast appointed managing director. Strain will also remain as chief executive of Review with co-founder Jayne Ellis remaining in her role as head of design and merchandise.

The founders of each of PAS’ newest conquests have each retained a minority shareholding in the group.

Morris, a former Myer executive who has been at the helm of the Deutsche Bank-backed group for just over 12 months, said the group’s aggressive growth plan involved acquiring businesses that had already established themselves as strong performers in the Australian market.

However, while the group did not have any other deals “in the pipeline”, Morris said it would continue to talk to suitable businesses as and when the opportunity arose.

He said talk of the possibility of the group potentially listing on the Australian Stock Exchange was also premature with a decision on this likely to be made in the next one to three years.