ASPREY & GARRARD SUIT TARGETS WILLIAM R. ASPREY
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — It’s Asprey versus Asprey.
Asprey & Garrard, the British luxury retailer acquired last year by Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou, has launched legal proceedings against William R. Asprey to stop him from using the family name for the shop he opened here last September. Asprey & Garrard has served a writ on Asprey alleging trademark infringement.
The William R. Asprey Esq. shop, in a former bank on Mount Street, plays on the Asprey family’s history of dealing in luxury goods since 1781.
The new shop sells products under its own label in silver, leather goods, clothing and rifles and shooting accessories, as well as watches by Journe and Arnold Tompion & Graham.
William R. Asprey established his business in 1999 after leaving Asprey & Garrard, where he was a longtime board member. He is the son of John Asprey, the former chairman of the company who sold it to Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the younger brother of the Sultan of Brunei, in 1995 for $357.9 million in cash and shares.
The Sultan’s Brunei Investment Authority later took control of Asprey & Garrard as part of an out-of-court settlement of Prince Jefri’s alleged misuse of state funds. Stroll and Chou, who also own 19 percent of Tommy Hilfiger Corp., bought Asprey & Garrard last July for less than $147 million. They appointed Rosa Monckton, former chairwoman of Tiffany U.K., as chief executive of Asprey & Garrard in September.
Neither Monckton nor other Asprey & Garrard executives could be reached for comment Tuesday on the legal action. Monckton reportedly has held talks with William R. Asprey over the last several months in an attempt to get him to drop the Asprey name but he is said to have refused.
William R. Asprey said he’d only received notification of the legal action Tuesday morning. He declined any comment on the issue until he’d had a chance to review it with his advisers.
The legal action comes as Stroll and Chou embark on a major revamp and split of the brands, focusing Asprey on contemporary jewelry and lifestyle products and Garrard on classic jewelry designs. The company also has begun a remodeling of its New Bond Street flagship and is considering a relocation of its New York store from its current Trump Tower location.
At the time of the purchase, Stroll told WWD that his goal was to make Asprey as big a luxury brand as Tiffany. The new owners foresee opening Asprey stores in major cities worldwide and believe the William R. Asprey store creates confusion over the brand name.