HIGH-end European fashion and travel goods name Louis Vuitton has become a 49.9 per cent owner of the the iconic Australian outdoor clothing business R.M. Williams.
The 81-year-old bushman's outfitter and casual wear specialist, founded by stockman and bootmaker, the late Reginald Williams, wants to consolidate and strengthen its popular brand globally using its newly-secured ties with private equity fund L Capital Asia.
The fund is run on behalf of the LVMH Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton (LVMH) multinational luxury goods conglomerate in Paris.
LVMH was formed by the 1987 after a merger between the Louis Vuitton fashion house and the the champagne business Moet Chandon, which also includes cognac manufacturer, Hennessy.
L Capital has promised to enhance R.M.Williams' (RMW) ability to engage new markets with strength, vigour and invaluable local knowledge RMW noted in a statement today.
RMW company owner, chairman and former newspaper industry boss Ken Cowley sold almost half his family's stake in the business to enable the new partnership, but retains a 0.1pc majority and the chairman's position.
"Partnering with L Capital, which is sponsored by one of the globe's most prestigious and revered brand companies, will allow the R.M.Williams name to reach its full potential," he said.
L Capital Asia said it had monitored RMW's business performance for five years and noted the opportunity the brand had to grow further with support from a like-minded investor.
The Cowley family took sole ownership and privatised R.M.Williams business in 2003.
It now has 1100 stockists ,63 retail stores and 660 employees in Australia, the USA and UK and has reinforced its commitment to continuing to make quality product for its range in Australia.
"Our new partners share our commitment to protect and develop this fundamental element of our business," Mr Cowley said.
He was "immensely proud" of how his board and management had worked "intelligently and diligently" to drive the resurgence of the R.M.Williams brand in the past decade.
He said R.M.Williams was part of the heritage and fabric of the Australian way of life and a brand "that we can all identify with".
RMW and L Capital Asia will announce new board members next month.