PARIS — Kering, the French group previously known as PPR, said it has acquired a majority stake in France Croco, an elite producer of tanned skins.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Located in the Normandy region of France, the tannery is one of the largest in the world and a supplier to a top fleet of luxury firms in Italy and France, including brands owned by Kering and its luxury rivals.

At Kering, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Brioni are among fashion houses marketing products made with crocodile skin, used for leather goods, watch straps, shoes and ready-to-wear.

Founded in 1974 by Jacques Lewkowicz, France Croco is currently managed by the founder’s son, Dan Lewkowicz, who is to remain its ceo. The firm employs about 60 people.

“This acquisition will allow Kering’s brands to further secure a sustainable supply of high quality crocodilian skins,” the company said. “This vertical integration is part of the strategy of Kering to better support its brands to better reach their potential.”

According to Kering, France Croco’s sourcing activities “set high standards for sustainability and conservation of wildlife species.”

Securing raw materials — particularly exotic skins and watch components — has emerged as a key strategic thrust for Europe’s fast-growing makers of luxury goods.

In 2010, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton gained majority control of Singapore crocodile tannery Heng Long International Ltd., saying the move would help it procure high-quality crocodile skins for its various luxury brands, which include Fendi, Céline and Louis Vuitton. Heng Long sources and tans up to 280,000 skins annually.

Last year, LVMH also took control of Les Tanneries Roux, a French producer of supple calf leathers. Earlier this year, Hermès Cuirs Précieux, the tannery division of Hermès International, said it had acquired French calf leather specialist Tannerie d’Annonay for an undisclosed sum as part of its ongoing policy of integrating suppliers. Hermès owns two crocodile tanneries in France: Gordon Choisy and TCIM.

Kering also owns Caravel Pelli Pregiate, an Italian tannery specializing in precious skins. The French group said it intends to expand France Croco’s production capacity and to maintain its current suppliers and customers.

Paris-based Ohana & Co. was the investment bank that spearheaded the sale process.