Buyout firms jostle for John Hardy in jewellery M&A boom

Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:28am EST
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* Bali-inspired jeweller seen fetching $100-$140 mln

* Catterton, TSG among the interested parties - sources

* Jewellery outpacing broader luxury market growth

By Astrid Wendlandt and Olivia Oran

PARIS/NEW YORK, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Jeweller John Hardy is attracting bid interest from a string of U.S. private equity firms, sources close to the matter said, the latest potential deal in a sector outpacing the broader luxury industry thanks in part to financially independent Asian women.

U.S. buyout groups Catterton Partners and TSG Consumer Partners are among the firms interested in a jeweller which draws its inspiration from the Indonesian island of Bali and sells products including a $425 two-finger silver snake ring and a $1,495 silver-and-gold dragon ring, the sources said.

While luxury watchmakers are struggling with a crackdown in China on gift-giving to officials and several fashion and accessories brands point to slowing growth in a range of emerging markets, jewellers are proving more resilient.

A sector once dominated by events such as engagements and births, is now achieving a broader appeal, due partly to the growing financial independence of women in emerging markets, particularly Asia, and to ageing populations in mature markets. Older people tend to spend more on jewellery than the young.

"Jewellery is the next big category behind shoes as it is easy to wear, allows you to show your personality and is not hugely expensive," said Elsa Berry, managing director of Vendome Global Partners, a financial advisory firm focused on the luxury industry, in New York.   Continued...