European fine watch and jewelry retailer Bucherer has acquired Tourneau LLC from an investor group led by Green Equity Investors IV, an affiliate of private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP.The acquisition will allow the Bucherer Group to gain a foothold in the U.S. market.Tourneau is the largest luxury watch retailer in the U.S. Founded in 1900, the company is based in New York. It operates 28 stores across 10 states, as well as a web site.Guido Zumbühl, chief executive officer of the Bucherer Group, said, "With this acquisition, we will immediately introduce the Bucherer brand to millions of potential customers in one of the most important global watch and jewelry markets. This is also a great opportunity to firmly establish the Carl F. Bucherer brand in the U.S. and introduce Bucherer Fine Jewellery into the North American market.”Zumbühl added that the company is “delighted that Tourneau’s management will join our team to ensure both continuity and to help us drive the future success of Bucherer within the U.S.”Jörg G. Bucherer, owner and president of Bucherer, said, “I am very delighted to bring my family’s brand to the United States. This strengthens the leadership of our company and brings the Bucherer name to one of the most important markets in the world. We want to inspire our American customers with outstanding choice and an impeccable Swiss service culture providing the very best shopping experience.”Tourneau is known for its customer service and extensive selection of new and certified pre-owned watches. Tourneau sells timepieces by brands such as Cartier, IWC, Tag Heuer, Rolex, Baume & Mercier and Patek Philippe, as well as its own brand.Ira Melnitsky, ceo of Tourneau, said, “Bucherer is a dream partner for Tourneau. A Swiss company with 130 years of history in the industry, Bucherer understands fine watches like few others, making them the ideal partner for Tourneau. As our business continues to perform and grow, this is a natural next step for the company.”Melnitsky noted that Tourneau’s customers, business partners and employees “will benefit from Bucherer’s expertise, innovation and unmatched product selection and services.”Melnitsky joined Tourneau in October 2013. Previous stints include president of home and better handbag divisions of LF USA, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Rue La La, and executive vice president of sales and merchandising at both Tumi and Ferragamo USA. He began his career as an accessories buyer at Lord & Taylor.Ownership of the New York-based retailer changed hands in October 2006. Other investors in the Green Equity Investors-led $300 million buyout included members of the Wexler family, who had owned the chain since the Seventies. The senior management team at the time — Robert J. Wexler, ceo, and Howard R. Levitt, president — also took minority stakes in the company.Levitt said at the time that Tourneau had been actively exploring a partnership for a year, having been a closely held family business since its inception. He added that while the company was doing well and had “more than adequate capital resources,” it was an ideal time for existing shareholders to take some of their investment off the table while still keeping a sizable interest in the business.In 2011, Tourneau was the recipient of ACE’s Specialty Retailer Award.
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