VENDOME ACQUIRES U.K. GUN MAKERS

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON--Luxury goods company Vendome PLC has acquired James Purdey & Sons, one of the U.K.'s most famous gun makers, for an undisclosed sum.
The deal is the second purchase of a British gun maker by a luxury goods group. Chanel bought Holland & Holland in July 1989 for 10.9 million pounds.
Purdey caters to a market similar to Holland & Holland's; its handmade guns cost about $63,500 (40,000 pounds) a pair. The company, which was founded in 1818, also sells a full range of shooting apparel and accessories for men and women, including tailored clothing, knitwear, socks, shoes, outerwear, scarves and hats.
Vendome--which also owns Cartier, Karl Lagerfeld, Chloæ, Baume & Mercier and Alfred Dunhill--did not reveal its plans for Purdey, which is based in South Audley Street. It said the gun maker will continue to operate under its existing management, headed by chairman Richard Beaumont.
Vendome will appoint two nonexecutive directors to the Purdey board - Johann Rupert and Eloy Michotte. Rupert is managing director of Richemont, which owns 70 percent of Vendome.
Chanel's treatment of Holland & Holland may be an indication of Purdey's future, however. Chanel initially did little to change Holland & Holland, then began an aggressive expansion program for the operation this summer. Holland & Holland opened a 4,000-square-foot store in Paris, expanded its London flagship to a similar size, and plans to open stores in Milan, Madrid, Munich and New York over the next three years, according to Alain Drach, chairman of the gun firm.
The firm has launched an extensive advertising campaign in London and a mail order catalog for its jackets, knitwear, socks, hats, outerwear, footwear, luggage and other accessories.
"Our strategy is to move beyond England," Drach said at a recent reception to mark the expansion of the store here. "We don't think it's valid any longer to sit in London and say, 'Come to us.' We want to appeal to the extended world of shooting with our products, on an international basis."
--Fairchild News Service

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