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Bedat & Co. Sold to Malaysian Firm

Gucci Group sheds niche watchmaker to Luxury Concepts Watches & Jewelry.

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MILAN — Gucci Group has found a buyer for its Bedat & Co. watch brand: Malaysia-based Luxury Concepts Watches & Jewelry.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Gucci Group president and chief executive officer Robert Polet described it as “a good deal for all parties concerned.”

PPR chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault had indicated last week in disclosing 2008 results that the conglomerate would shed underperforming businesses, including Bedat, which Gucci Group acquired in 2000 at the height of the luxury acquisitions spree.

It is understood the Bedat brand, which generated annual revenues of 7 million euros, or about $8.9 million at current exchange, did not grow beyond niche status. In addition, Europe’s luxury groups have seen a dramatic drop-off in watch sales amid the spiraling global economic crisis.

Polet said Bedat developed in the United States and Asia, “however, it didn’t reach the level of performance we were expecting.” He described Luxury Concepts as experts in distributing niche, high-end watches in East Asia.

According to the company’s Web site, Luxury Concepts distributes brands including TechnoMarine, Armand Nicolet, Hermès, Oris and Korloff, and operates four monobrand boutiques in Kuala Lumpur.

Bedat’s acting ceo, Viviane Fankhauser, is expected to remain with the company. Gucci Group noted the sale agreement with Luxury Concepts was “in partnership” with Fankhauser.

Geneva-based Bedat was created by Christian Bedat and his mother, Simone, one of the founders of Raymond Weil, in 1996. The brand earned rapid acclaim for its innovative and elegant designs, with its No. 3 — a tonneau-shaped women’s style with straps of grosgrain or metal — an immediate hit in the U.S.

Bedat exited the firm in 2006 amid differences with Gucci Group management. Since then, the Swiss watchmaker has been one of the least visible brands in a Gucci Group luxury stable that includes the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Boucheron.

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