3i announces US$30m investment in second largest designer jewellery brand in US

25 Oct 2007

3i, a leading global private equity and venture capital firm, today announces a US$30m minority investment supporting existing management in the buyout of Hong Kong based John Hardy Group (“John Hardy”), a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of high-end designer jewellery and lifestyle accessories. 

Founded in 1989 by John Hardy, the eponymous group is now recognised as the second largest designer jewellery brand in its main market, the US.  Its products are currently sold in all the major department stores including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales.  After eighteen years in the business, the founders are seeking to retire and have agreed to sell the firm to company chief executive officer Damien Dernoncourt and creative director Guy Bedarida.

3i’s involvement will enable the John Hardy Group to continue its transition from a family run business to a professionally managed company, leveraging the brand that the founders have built and taking it forward to consolidate its position in the fast growing US designer jewellery market.  The firm also plans to introduce new collections and increase its sales in the Middle East, Russia and Japan, where the brand already has a growing presence.

John Hardy products are hand crafted and made primarily of gold, silver and semi-precious stones.  Reflecting the multi-cultural nature of Balinese society, they are renowned for their superior design and strong appeal to fashion focused, environmentally conscious consumers of luxury brands.  Additionally John Hardy recently won two Town & Country jewellery industry awards for “Best Silver Jewellery Line” and “Best Public Relations Company”, reflecting its resounding influence in the market.

Following the retirement of the founders, Damien Dernoncourt will continue to lead the company as CEO.  Since joining John Hardy in 2003, initially as CFO Asia, Damien has been integral to the restructuring of the Group in the last 3 years, establishing the company’s strong market presence and team.  Having previously run his own businesses, Damien’s experience has proven instrumental to the professionalisation of the family business. 

Having led the design team since 1999, Guy Bedarida will work closely alongside Damien.  Guy has over twenty years of experience in the jewellery business both with the House of Van Cleef and Arpels and Boucheron.  His input remains key to the success of the John Hardy brand. 

Thaddeus Beczak, introduced by 3i, joins as Chairman of John Hardy, bringing impressive financial experience from his role as chairman of Nomura Asia Holdings and former positions as Deputy Chairman of South China Morning Post (Holdings) Limited, Executive Director of Kerry Holdings, Director of Shangri-La Asia Limited and Kerry Properties Limited and elected Chairman of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Listing Committee in 1997.  Additionally, John Hardy will benefit from a highly respected advisory board comprising industry figures from Star Group, Hermes and Pure Creative.

Damien Dernoncourt, John Hardy Group CEO, today says of the transaction: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the John Hardy Group to expand the business and further strengthen its expertise and reputation.  I am confident that 3i’s renowned global network and extensive experience in helping businesses to grow will enable us to achieve our full potential.”

3i Director Anna Cheung adds: “I am delighted to be working alongside such an outstanding team.  The John Hardy Group has a sound reputation for its stylish and unique designs and its environmentally conscious ethos.  Having backed consumer brands including Gant and Hobbs and worked with family businesses such as Dirickx, Senoble and Williams Lea, we look forward to helping the John Hardy Group build on its strong foundations to grow its brand and product range.” 

About 3i

3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital.  We focus on buyouts, growth capital and venture capital and invest across Europe, in the United States and Asia. Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our relationships in business.  These underpin the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders. 

3i Growth Capital is the world’s largest growth capital fund investing over US$3bn every year in businesses across Europe, Asia and the US.  We provide financial and strategic support to established businesses with the potential for outstanding value growth.  We invest between US$20m - US$200m to help businesses achieve their growth ambitions, restructure shareholdings, release equity or change the balance of equity to debt.  Once we have invested, we are committed to working in partnership with majority shareholders.

Recent investments include; Foster + Partners, UK; KNEIP, Luxembourg; Delta Hydrocarbons, Benelux; UFO Moviez, India; Electrawinds, Benelux; DNA, Finland; ACR, Singapore; Fulcrum, US; Giraffe, UK; Sten, Spain and Advanced Power, Switzerland.  
Recent realisations include Grand Frais, France; SeLoger.com, France; Alimak Hek, Sweden; Salamander Energy, UK; CH4 Energy, UK; Magix, Germany; Williams Lea, UK and Hayley Conference Centres, UK. 
www.3i.com

For further information please contact:

Rachel Richards
email. rachel.richards@3i.com
tel.  +44 207 975 3573