The Chicago-based luxury design brand Holly Hunt, solely owned by its founder Holly Hunt, has been acquired by Knoll for $95 million in cash. Future payments will be made contingent on the performance of the business over the next three years. The company made $94 million in revenue in 2013, and double digit operating margins are expected for years ahead.
Holly Hunt, founder
Holly Hunt will remain a standalone company within the Knoll family and Hunt, who will remain CEO of Holly Hunt, will report directly to Knoll CEO Andrew Cogan. David Schutte, Knoll's SVP and chief marketing officer, will join Holly Hunt as president. Hunt will also serve as an advisor to Knoll on the company's high-design residential strategy.
"Even though [Holly Hunt and Knoll] reside at seemingly different sectors of the market, we are both design driven, high-quality luxury furnishings companies determined to be at the top of our respective industry sectors," said Hunt. "We share an entrepreneurial spirit, comfort embracing change, and passion for offering only the best. Today the residential, corporate and hospitality sectors are much closer than in the past just as art and design now cross lines and meld almost seamlessly. We are not so different! I believe Knoll will be a great partner to perpetuate our legacy and maintain the Holly Hunt brand with our standards of excellence."
The acquisition advances the Knoll strategy of building its global capability as a go-to resource for high-design workplaces and homes, including the commercial contract, decorator to-the-trade and consumer markets. Following the acquisition, approximately 40% of Knoll revenues will come from outside the North American office market.
"Like our co-founder Florence Knoll, Holly Hunt is one of the icons of our industry who consistently elevates the level of design in her chosen markets," said Cogan. "She is an arbiter of refined taste, and we have been longtime fans of her work and curatorial eye. We believe as a custodian of her eponymous brand that we can help Holly and her seasoned team accelerate the brand's growth both domestically and internationally, while leveraging assets we already have in place."
Cogan estimates the global market for luxury home furnishings and coverings to exceed the market for contract furnishings and believes it offers significant opportunity for further consolidation and growth as the number of affluent, design-savvy consumers expands globally.
"The acquisition of Holly Hunt accelerates our high-design residential and consumer strategy and opens up new sources of revenue that complement our existing office and specialty businesses," he said.
In 1983, Holly began in the interior design business by buying a small showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, which she filled with luxury designer collections such as Karl Springer, Old World Weavers and Yale Burge. She expanded her reach into all major U.S. markets with multi-line showrooms and with her own brand of furniture, lighting, textiles and leather and created exclusive partnerships with iconic designers such as Christian Astuguevieille, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Ralph Pucci and Tristan Auer. This past summer, Hunt opened her first international showroom in Sao Paulo Brazil, and has growing representation in London.