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Monday, November 23, 1998 Published at 12:31 GMT


Business: The Company File

Yardley sold to Wella

Yardley tried to change its old-fashioned image

One of the UK's most famous independent perfume brands has been sold to German haircare group Wella.

Yardley's brand name as well as the soap and eau de cologne division, known as Bath Luxuries, were bought by Wella for an undisclosed sum.

Yardley, which supplies soaps and perfumes to the Queen and Queen Mother, has been in financial difficulties for some time.

It failed to spruce up its conservative image even after a £2.5m advertising campaign featuring supermodel Linda Evangelista.

In August receivers were appointed after the company made losses of £9m on sales of only £69m.

The company, which had been sold for £110m by owners SmithKline Beecham, in 1990, was burdened by the interest payment on that debt.

Receivers KPMG have yet to find a buyer for the company's international cosmetics and fragrance operations employing 220 people at Basildon, Essex.

These include brands such as the Tweed and Panache fragrances.

Tony Thompson, joint receiver at KPMG, said: "This is the receivership's first important brand sale. They will now receive the investment they warrant."

He also said he expected "significant further sales" of the remaining unsold brands which were seeing strong pre-Christmas performances.

Klaus Wolfran, a spokesman for the firm, said it had set up a London-based company, Yardley of London, to manage the Bath Luxuries business.

British image to stay

Production is mostly done in the UK by smaller manufacturers on a sub-contracting basis but two-thirds of it will now transfer to Cologne, Mr Wolfran said.

"We will take into consideration the best traditions of Yardley as a British company. Yardley will remain British," he added.

Yardley, founded in 1770 in London, was created by William Yardley, a purveyor of swords, spurs and buckles to the aristocracy.

He took over a lavender soap-making concession from his son-in-law William Cleaver who had gambled away his inheritance.

Wella expanding perfume business

It is hoped that Wella will enable the company to modernise its portfolio of flower-scented soaps, talcum powders, and traditional perfumes.

The company also has businesses in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.

Wella, with global sales of DM 6bn (£2.1bn), has been trying to increase its share of the Continental fragrance business recently.

It owns French brands Charles Jourdan and Rochas, as well as German brands 'Tosca' and '4711'.

It has over 15,000 employees overall, with 1500 in the perfume business.

Two-thirds of its overall sales are outside Germany.





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