PARIS — Signaling the importance of securing rare raw materials for luxury goods, Chanel said it has acquired a majority stake in a French tannery that specializes in high-end lambskin.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Founded in 1852, the family-run Richard tannery in Millau, part of the Aveyron region in France, is prized for leathers with metallic, pearly, printed, varnished or crushed finishes.
It is already a major supplier to Chanel, particularly for its small leather goods.
Richard has evolved from a supplier of leathers for gloves and garments to a sharper focus on footwear and leather goods, according to Chanel.
Managing director Xavier Richard has almost 30 years of experience at the company, which employs 40 people and exports about 60 percent of its leather production.
Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion, said the acquisition adds a “crucial link to our chain of leather goods manufacturing and provides Chanel with an opportunity to consolidate our network of excellence in leather.”
The intent is to create cluster of leather specialists in Millau that is “dynamic and the most effective guarantee of sustainability in this sector,” Pavlovsky said.
In 2012, Chanel acquired Causse, a glove manufacturer whose workshop is located in Millau. It also owns another French tannery in the vicinity, Bodin-Joyeux, also specializing in lambskin and with more than 150 years of experience under its belt.
Richard specialized in what is known as Lacaune and Entrefino lambskin “plongé,” a supple leather used for some of Chanel’s iconic quilted leather goods.
In tandem with the acquisition, Chanel plans to “invest in order to reinvigorate the Lacaune segment and boost innovation, in particular regarding new methods of vegetable and synthetic tanning.”
Chanel is keen to ensure savoir faire and production capacities around its key products. Also in 2012, the firm acquired Scottish cashmere expert Barrie knitwear, maker of Chanel’s bicolored cardigans and other sweaters for more than 25 years.
Europe’s big luxury groups are jockeying to secure suppliers of the rare raw materials and technical know-how needed to make their high-margin products.