Hermes takes majority stake in watch case maker

PARIS Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:52pm EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - French luxury group Hermes has acquired a majority stake in Swiss watch case maker Joseph Erard, another step in a wave of consolidation that has seen watch industry players integrated in large luxury concerns.

Hermes (HRMS.PA) said in a statement on Friday its La Montre Hermes unit had increased its stake in Joseph Erard Holding and now has a majority in the firm. It did not disclose terms of the transaction. Joseph Erard makes high-end watch cases and employs about sixty people.

Luxury groups like French LVMH (LVMH.PA) and Hermes and are keen to buy up watch parts makers in order to secure supplies for their upmarket watch brands.

Consolidation in the suppliers industry picked up in the past two years. LVMH has acquired Swiss movement and watchmaker La Fabrique du Temps as well as dial manufacturer ArteCad.

Hermes bought dial specialist Natebar and a minority stake in Joseph Erard, while French PPR (PRTP.PA) has also made acquisitions in the watch and watch parts business.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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