* Hermes acquires d'Annonay tannerie for undisclosed sum
* Luxury brands are buying partners to guarantee supplies
PARIS Jan 10 Hermes is taking over
d'Annonay tannery, one of its key providers of calf leather,
becoming the latest luxury brand to buy up a supplier in an
increasingly competitive environment for quality raw materials.
Hermes, which already owns two tanneries in France, one in
Italy and a reptile tannery in Louisiana, on Thursday said it
had acquired the d'Annonay business in the Rhone Valley from its
80 staff for an undisclosed amount.
"This acquisition is in line with the strategy of...
preservation and development of sources of supplies and know-how
related to them," Hermes said in a statement.
Rival luxury groups such as Chanel and LVMH have
been stepping up their investments in recent years in prized
leather workshops and artisans as well as accessories
specialists to secure supplies.
As a result, luxury brands are boosting vertical integration
- owning most of the production chain, from the raw material
provider to the shop where the product is sold, industry
Crisis-defying demand for luxury goods, coming mainly from
Asia, has put pressure on production capacity and on supplies of
high quality raw materials, leading brands to fight for them and
even buy some of them up to secure their needs.
In Oct. 2011, LVMH acquired control of Heng Long,
a crocodile skin tannery in Singapore, and bought in May last
year the Roux tannery, a supplier of the luxury group's fashion
brands Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Loewe and Celine.
In October last year, Chanel bought the Scottish cashmere
specialist Barrie Knitwear and the previous month, it acquired
the glove-maker Causse, bringing the number of specialist
suppliers under its wings to more than a dozen.
Chanel says it allows its specialist production units, which
also include the prestigious embroiderer Lesage and hat maker
Maison Michel, to work for rival brands to stimulate creativity.
In the watchmaking world, top brands have been buying
suppliers of movements, dials, springs and other parts in
response to threats from the industry's biggest provider Swatch
to cut off supplies to rivals.
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)