Pierre Cardin set to sell his fashion house

Pierre Cardin
Image caption Without an heir, Pierre Cardin said selling the business would ensure its survival

Legendary fashion designer Pierre Cardin has said that it is time to put his business up for sale.

The Italian-born France-based designer, aged 88, told the Wall Street Journal: "I know I won't be here in a few years and the business needs to continue."

He estimated that his empire was worth 1bn euros ($1.5bn; £897m), but some analysts put the value at half that.

His fashion house was one of the first to expand in Asia and the Cardin name was carried on a string of products.

"I want to sell it now," Mr Cardin, who does not have an heir, told the newspaper.

He founded his house in 1950, and was known for his avant-garde style.

The business entered Asia in the 1950s, set up in Japan in 1957, and then in China in 1979.

Consumers in Asia are still among the biggest customers for his branded luxury products and designer clothes.

Cardin was one of the pioneers of brand licensing and the name is now carried on hundreds of products, including shirts, bottled water, furniture and perfume.

But with a myriad of licences around the world, estimating the size of Cardin's revenues from royalties is difficult. The business is a private company and reports limited financial information.

Mr Cardin said his valuation was based on a multiple of 10m euros per product per country, "which is nothing at all", he said.

"One thousand products, 100 countries, that's how it calculates. It's nothing," he added.

Image caption From its creation in the 1950s Pierre Cardin had a reputation for the avant-garde.

Media reports mentioned US group Iconix Brand as a possible bidder. However, rival luxury goods firms LVMH and PPR were ruled out because their business model involves tight control over their brands, rather than handing out a multitude of licences.

Laurent Habib, who runs the consultancy Observatory on Intangibles, said: "Pierre Cardin is a brand that was at times a little too exposed, too used, too franchised and in a way intangible assets were greatly squandered."

Mr Cardin told the WSJ that a condition of any sale would be that he remained as creative director.

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