PARIS — With ambitions of a global footprint in fashion and hospitality, upstart Qatar Luxury Group (QLG) has acquired a 52.7 percent stake in French accessories brand Le Tanneur, with plans to make a tender offer for the remainder of the company.
QLG said it paid around 15.1 million euros, or $22.1 million at current exchange rates, for the 52.7 percent stake in the French-based leather goods maker.
Founded in 1898, Le Tanneur also manufactures the younger line Soco and Tann’s, aimed at children. The firm operates 49 doors in France, including six outlets, and distributes in Asia and the Middle East. In 2010, the company had a turnover of 57.3 million euros, or $75 million at average exchange rates for that year.
Established in 2008 and headquartered in Doha, Qatar Luxury Group plans to launch a luxury brand of its own invention at the end of the year and roll out stores in New York, Paris and Singapore by the end of 2012. Its name and concept are still under wraps.
“The collection is completely conceived, sketched and prototyped in our facilities in Doha,” said Grégory Couillard, QLG’s chief executive officer.
“Our logic is industrial. The acquisition of Le Tanneur was done in this context. Le Tanneur was looking for investments to ensure its development and we have been interested by the know-how of the teams, the production units and by the development potential of their brands.”
Couillard said QLG ultimately plans to build a portfolio of brands, with its fashion business spanning high-end footwear, leather goods, jewelry and ready-to-wear. “We have set up state-of-the art workshops for these four product categories, which is a first in Doha,” said Couillard.
Leading the design team for QLG is French couturier Stephane Rolland, who commutes from his studio in Paris to the atelier in Doha. “He is leading a very multi-cultural team constituted of designers coming from all over the world. This cross-cultural influences gives our studio a fantastic openness,” said Couillard.
Thierry Thomas, who began his career as a tailor at Yves Saint Laurent and went on to work in Dior Homme’s atelier with Hedi Slimane, has taken on the role of vice president of rtw. QLG boasts directors from the worlds of luxury and finance, including executives from Burberry and Cartier.
The group’s sole shareholder is The Qatar Foundation for Education and Science, which is headed by the Emir of Qatar’s wife, Her Highness Haya Al-Nassr.
Couillard said the company is keen to tap local talent as it looks to build a conglomerate to compete alongside French powerhouses like LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and PPR’s luxury division.
“This part of the world has always been a cultural and commercial crossroads. Local and regional designers have been nurtured by their own culture and by multi-cultural influences that gives them a richness and an openness that we will find in the collections,” said Couillard.
“South East Asia will be important for the growth of our group. However, we are building for the long term and are looking into establishing our brands firmly rather than developing them quickly.”
QLG also has a food and beverage subsidiary, which plans to open a number of restaurants with a soon-to-be-named three-star Michelin chef at their helm. The first restaurant will be located on the Pearl in Doha, a newly developed man-made luxury island with a marina in its center. Two brasserie concept restaurants are slated to open in the center of Doha’s business district in early 2012, Couillard stated.
Couillard noted there are no other acquisitions in the pipeline, however, “If we would come across a real opportunity through brands sharing our vision of luxury based on traditional craftsmanship, we would study it.”