Jul 12, 2011
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Louis Vuitton buys Swiss watch-maker La Fabrique du Temps

Jul 12, 2011

Louis Vuitton, the luxury leather goods maker owned by industry giant LVMH, on Thursday said it had acquired for an undisclosed amount the Swiss watch manufacturer La Fabrique du Temps, its partner since 2007.

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton "Repetition Minutes"

The deal comes after LVMH's rival PPR took control this week of watchmaker Sowind Group, of which it already owned 23 percent, giving it brands Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard as well as a manufacturer of high-end watch movements.

Luxury groups such PPR and LVMH, as well as independent watchmakers such as Patek Philippe and Rolex, are stepping up their investments in watch production and parts providers to reduce their dependence on external suppliers.

The trend is also fed by Swatch Group , the industry's biggest provider of parts and movements, which has been repeatedly threatening to stop supplying rivals.

However, on Thursday, Louis Vuitton said La Fabrique du Temps would continue to supply other clients.

"The integration of La Fabrique du Temps reflects Louis Vuitton's desire to uphold the highest quality standards for its watches and further develop its know-how in the conception and perfection of movements," the brand said in a statement.

The Swiss watch industry, which contracted sharply in 2009, has been enjoying a strong rebound largely driven by Chinese buyers and tourists in western Europe. Swiss watch exports are up 20 percent since the beginning of the year.

Louis Vuitton, best known for its LV embossed leather handbags, diversified into apparel designed by Marc Jacobs in the 1990s and later into watches. Two years ago it entered the high-end jewellery market.

The brand sold its first watch in 2002 and stepped up the development of its watch operations in 2008.

That year, LVMH acquired Hublot, which has become since the fastest-growing luxury watch brand within the group.

(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Leila Abboud and Jane Merriman)

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