In a surprise development, Tiffany & Co. has acquired the 10-year old luxury American accessories brand from Samsonite. Lambertson Truex filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March after Samsonite put the brand up for sale in December. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Richard Lambertson and John Truex will join Tiffany & Co. effective today, according to a Tiffany spokeswoman. Lambertson and Truex are expected to explore the development of an accessories collection to complement Tiffany & Co.’s assortment.
“We have long admired the design talents and classic elegance of the Lambertson and Truex team and classic elegance of their brand and believe it is a perfect match for Tiffany,” said Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and chief executive officer of Tiffany. “It is not often that talent of this caliber becomes available, creating a unique opportunity for Tiffany to broaden our accessories offerings.”
“We are so excited by this prospect,” said Lambertson. “Tiffany is a great American brand, and we think Lambertson Truex is a great American brand.”
Truex added, “This is an awesome moment for us, and we are so thrilled to be a part of the Tiffany legacy.”
Lambertson and Truex will close their namesake brand’s 17th Street headquarters and showroom in New York and move to Tiffany’s offices at 600 Madison Avenue. It could not be learned at press time whether staff would move to Tiffany and whether the Lambertson Truex brand will continue as its own entity.
Luxury accessories were selling at an all-time high in 2006 when Samsonite sought to diversify its holdings and acquired Lambertson Truex. The designers, who launched their own firm in 1999, have résumés that include longtime stints at firms such as Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Carlos Falchi and ck Calvin Klein.
Known for their high-end leather and exotic skin handbags, Lambertson Truex’s average handbag price point ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, and exotic skins climb far higher. There is also a footwear collection. The brand was distributed at specialty stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, in addition to other independent specialty shops.
With Samsonite’s guidance, Lambertson Truex opened its first stand-alone stores in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The stores are now closed.
Tiffany & Co. is one of the few powerhouse jewelry firms that hasn’t pushed leather goods in a big way. Cartier, Bulgari and Chopard all have made significant headway into the handbag and leather goods market in the past several years.
For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, Tiffany reported a 75.6 percent decline in earnings to $31.1 million, on sales that fell 20.1 percent to $841.2 million.
Tiffany’s shares fell 2.9 percent to $28.10 Friday.
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