Investors rushed to buy shares in the Canadian company, although some observers have expressed doubts about its ability to internationalize its business and to diversify its product range in the longer term. First offered at a price of 17 Canadian dollars on March 16 on the stock exchanges of Toronto and New York - north of a previously recommended range of C$14-16 - the stock hit a high of C$23.98 in intense trading and closed at C$21.53 on the first day of trading in Toronto. It started today at C$22.36, giving Canada Goose Holdings a valuation of C$2.44 billion (€1.7bn-$1.8bn).
At this level, the company can boast of price/earnings ratio of more than 65, well above that of some big and mature luxury goods companies such as Hermès or the decrease ratio of 24 given by investors to Lululemon Athletica, or a ratio of 27 recently enjoyed by Moncler, a much bigger company which, like Canada Goose, has successfully made its mark globally as a provider of functional outerwear with a concentration on the higher-margin fashion segment of the apparel market. The strong valuation of Canada Goose has given a small boost to Moncler's price in the last few days.
By selling 13.7 million shares out of the 20 million shares covered by the IPO, Bain Capital and Dani Reiss, chief executive of Canada Goose and nephew of its founder, made a nice capital gain. Bain, which had reportedly paid about $250 million for a 70 percent stake in the company in 2013, reduced its stake to 57 percent. Reiss got C$65 million (€45.6m-$48.7m) from the IPO by selling 3.85 million of his own shares, reducing his stake to 24 percent.
The IPO raised total proceeds of C$340 million. Part of the proceeds will be used to reduce the company's debt, which stood at C$374 million (€262.4m-$280.3m) as of Dec. 31.
The prospectus issued by Canada Goose ahead of he IPO mentions knitwear, fleece, footwear, travel gear and betting as possible areas of future product diversification from its core business in winter parkas, which carry a high price tag of up to €1,500 in Europe. It has already launched lightweight outerwear and is rolling out gradually a line of knitwear.
Lululemon did the same thing, starting off with women's yoga leggings and adding gradually other types of bodywear, including garments for training and running, initially for women and then also for men. However, observers feel that this other Canadian company has been able to do this thanks to its vertical business model, focusing on e-commerce and its growing network of stores.
Canada Goose wants to open more stores after those that were inaugurated in Toronto and New York late last year, but it will necessarily have to continue to rely mainly on the wholesale channel, which it has developed until now more in the fashion segment than in the functional sports and outdoor segment, despite its technical claims. Canada Goose will have a long way to go in the direct-to-consumer channel, which has been successfully pursued by Lululemon as well as Moncler, which is being perceived mostly as a luxury fashion brand. According to Drapers magazine, it is planning to set up a store in London at 244 Regent Street, on the site previous occupied by an Armani Exchange. E-commerce quadrupled in the nine months ended last Dec. 31, but 77 percent of the business was still at wholesale. Canada Goose launched a European e-commerce operation last September.
The prospectus also indicated that Canada Goose would like to expand its geographical coverage, targeting especially Germany, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. The U.S. and Canada represented 68 percent of its revenues of C$290.8 million (€204.5m-$218.0m) in the financial year ended March 31, 2016. In Europe, the biggest markets for Canada Goose are now the U.K., France and Germany. It could be noted that, after a few years of gradual international development, Lululemon's sales outside North America have remained relatively marginal, due perhaps in part to the investments required by its vertical business model.
A further possible hurdle for the future expansion of Canada Goose, particularly in the environment-conscious outdoor retail sector, is a strong challenge by animal activists against its use of down feathers and animal fur. Moncler has been attacked, too, but it has apparently suffered little damage because it doesn't use natural fur. A positive factor is a claim by Canada Goose that all its garments are still made in-house and by subcontractors in Canada, and that it expects full traceability for the use of down and fur throughout its supply chain to go into effect during the spring of this year.
The IPO was managed by CIBC Capital Markets, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and RBC Capital Markets.