ASPREY & GARRARD PLANS FOCUS ON ASPREY BRAND
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — Asprey & Garrard is preparing to turn back the clock.
The luxury goods retailer, which was acquired by Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou in July, reportedly plans to drop the Garrard name from its brand and focus on Asprey.
A spokeswoman for Asprey & Garrard declined to confirm the reports that appeared in the British press over the weekend. However, a source said the plan is to build up the Asprey brand, while Garrard would become a separate corner or in-store shop within the Asprey flagship on New Bond Street here. Garrard’s strength lies in one person — David Thomas, the crown jeweler who looks after the royal jewels belonging to Queen Elizabeth II that are on display in the Tower of London. Asprey & Garrard believes it receives huge publicity value from being the employer of the crown jeweler.
No time frame was revealed for the name change, but it is expected to take place within the next few months.
Asprey & Garrard was formed in 1998 with the amalgamation of the two brands following the closure of Garrard’s flagship on Regent Street. The store was closed as part of a major cost-cutting exercise undertaken by the former owner of the two companies Crown Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the younger brother of the Sultan of Brunei. Stroll and Chou bought Asprey & Garrard from the sultan’s Brunei Investment Agency for less than $152 million after three years of negotiations.
The merger was aimed at leveraging Asprey’s strengths in the Mideast with Garrard’s strengths in the Far East. But the merger never worked, as both brands continued to struggle against outdated images and lack of product innovation. Asprey & Garrard also suffered from the economic crises in both the Mideast and Far East.
Stroll and Chou are known to be prepared to build up Asprey as a major luxury brand rivaling Tiffany and Bulgari. The new owners appointed Rosa Monckton, former U.K. president of Tiffany, as president of Asprey & Garrard this summer. Robert Procop, who was chief executive, left in early September.
The first priority for the new owners is to revitalize Asprey & Garrard’s New Bond Street site and the rebranding is part of that exercise. Stroll and Chou then plan to turn their attention to Asprey & Garrard’s New York store, which traditionally has performed strongly. However, some industry observers say a priority for the new owners should to be relocate the store from the Trump Tower to a more visible location on Fifth or Madison Avenue.