WWD.com/business-news/mergers-acquisitions/vineyard-vines-buys-stores-back-from-mitchell-family-2129093/

The sun has set on the partnership between Vineyard Vines and the Mitchell family.

This story first appeared in the May 12, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Vineyard Vines co-founders Shep and Ian Murray on Monday revealed the acquisition of Vineyard Vines Retail, the partnership they founded in 2006 with the family that owns the Richards, Mitchells and Marshs specialty stores. Through the partnership, the Mitchells and Murrays opened six Vineyard Vines stores in Greenwich and Westport, Conn., Boston and Edgartown, Mass., Washington, D.C., and Key Largo, Fla.

Terms were not disclosed.

“Our goal was to establish a great foundation for Vineyard Vines retail and we have done that,” said Bob Mitchell, co-president of Mitchells.

The move gives Vineyard Vines direct control over most of its retail operations and demonstrates the continued evolution of the brand from a niche accessory business to a growing lifestyle label with vibrant wholesale and retail operations.

“We’ve learned a lot through this partnership and our wholesalers about the retail business — from customer service to planning and merchandising,” said Ian Murray. “This is the right time for us to take over.”

In the past three years, Vineyard Vines also partnered with the owners of Puritan Clothing to open a store on Cape Cod. It also joined forces with the Bridier family to establish a Nantucket outpost, and made a deal with Bill Levy of Oak Hall to open a Memphis unit. The acquisition does not affect those doors, which will continue to operate under partnership.

Ian Murray said future stores could be opened directly or through partnerships.

Mitchell also acknowledged selling the retail segment back to Vineyard Vines would allow the Mitchells to focus on their core business. “This gives us more resources to be offensive with our stores.”

The Mitchell family will continue to carry Vineyard Vines product at its stores.