Luxury shoe company Jimmy Choo is reportedly on course to join London's main stock market with a value of up to $1.1 billion. Ciara Lee asks is the timing right?
Studio 168 - the east London leather workshop of Selina Cheong and Eting Liu. It may seem a world away from the gleaming stores of luxury brand Jimmy Choo, but the Malaysian also began his bespoke service in the area. Born in Penang in the 60s, Choo learnt from his cobbler father. After moving to London, he opened a shop with Vogue's Tamara Mellon. And took the fashion world by storm, with Princess Diana and a host of celebrities donning his shoes. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER CIARA LEE, SAYING: "It may have started just streets away from here, but 20 years on Jimmy Choo is now arguably one of the most powerful global brands. With around 170 stores internationally the company plans to open another 10 to 15 more each year." Stepping up another level, Jimmy Choo is preparing to tread the boards of London's stock market. Now owned by JAB Holdings, it's been valued at up to a billion dollars. Books have opened with an initial price range of 140-180 pence a share. Anusha Couttigane is Columino's fashion consultant. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FASHION CONSULTANT AT COLUMINO, ANUSHA COUTTIGANE, SAYING: "I think it's a great time for them to show that they're expanding in the industry, that their reputation has grown so much. There is clearly a lot of demand for the business and to take it forward to the level where it can expand on that international level, I thinik now is a great time for them to do that. Choo joins Mulberry and Burberry as London's only listed luxury brands. And despite the luxury market being hit by slowing growth in emerging economies, for many Jimmy Choo remains untouchable. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FASHION CONSULTANT AT COLUMINO, ANUSHA COUTTIGANE, SAYING: "The shoe luxury market is probably a little bit underpenetrated. When we compare it to other accessories, we think of handbag brands, we think of jewelry brands, even make up brands. Shoe brands are not as big, and I think Jimmy Choo is one of those really iconic shoe brands and that is what makes it different." Jimmy Choo's first half sales were up around 10 percent this year after topping 280 million pounds last year. It plans use the new funds to further expand in Asia. But BGC's Mike Ingram says there are risks involved. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC MARKET COMMENTATOR, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "European luxury goods indices are down by about 11 percent this year, so on that range of 140 to 180 pence per share, they're really going to have to leave some money on the table if this thing is going to be successful." Selina Cheong and Studio 168 are focussing on handbags. But with a Malaysian background, it's hard to ignore the similarities with London's new luxury brand icon.