Grand Metropolitan Companies
Grand Metropolitan is an American multinational luxury goods holding company founded in Beverly Hills, CA. The group controls over 100 brand subsidiaries that have conducted almost $200 billion in revenue collectively since their founding originating in 1787.
Many of our companies have been leading employers and institutions in their local communities raising millions of dollars over the years for a variety of charities and causes.
Grand Metropolitan subsidiaries include:
Bonwit Teller & Co.
Bonwit Teller has a storied history of ownership from Floyd Odlum’s Atlas Corporation (RKO Studios, Greyhound Lines, Madison Square Gardens), Walter Hoving’s Hoving Corporation (Tiffany & Co., Avon shareholder), Genesco (Christian Dior, Dockers, Johnston & Murphy, S. H. Kress & Co.), Canadian billionaire Robert Campeau’s Allied Stores [(merged with Federated Department Stores, now Macy’s Inc.) Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, The Bon Marché], Australia’s Hooker Corporation (B. Altman & Co., Bonwit Teller, Sakowitz, Parisian) now Grand Met.
The flagship Manhattan location, sold separately to Donald Trump, was demolished in 1980 to build the original Trump Tower. Bonwits opened a new location, around the corner at Fifth Avenue/56th Street. Ultimately, it only lasted a short time before closing in 1990. Bonwits was replaced by Galeries Lafayette.
Bonwit Teller, in conjunction with the opening of the “Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism” exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, had commissioned a series of windows by Surrealist artists. Who better to contribute than Salvador Dali, exemplar of the movement, creator of the ubiquitous melting clocks and the man who said, “I myself am surrealism”?
From 2005 – 2008, Vin Lee negotiated to acquire and relaunch the Bonwit Teller department store brand. It serves to be the retail showcase for all Grand Metropolitan consumer luxury goods. With the new economy Bonwits would be rechristened with offerings found in Qatar Holdings’ Harrods, Russia’s Gum, and Orcofi’s (Luxadvor) Hediards.
Bonwits has retained a role in the development of fashion and design, most notably helping to launch the careers of Calvin Klein and Christian Dior. This connection to fashion royalty would inspire Lee to acquire French fashion house Orcofi recreating its portfolio of iconic brands including Andrelux, Lorenzo, Collaert, Bohata et Cie, and Acanta. He would also add banners like Morty Sills, John Phillips London, Mitsuhiro Matsuda and Wandalan.
French fashion house Orcofi, originally founded by Louis Vuitton family patriarch/former Chairman/CEO LVMH Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessey Henry Racamier, specializes in luxury goods (haute couture, ready-to-wear, handbags, perfumery, cosmetics). The original holding company joined French banking group Paribas and French cosmetics giant L’Oréal in buying Paris’ oldest couture house Lanvin.
Between 1989-1991, Orcofi assembled an impressive portfolio: Leather conglomerate Andrelux Industries (Bohata et Cie, Lorenzo, Soco, Upla, Le Tanneur), legendary trunk maker Moynat est.1849, luxury grocer Hédiard, lingerie brand Orcanta, Acanta, Cristalleries Daum, Philippe Model (fashion shoe/accessories designer), ready-to-wear Ines de la Fressange and Lanvin. Mr. Racamier sold Orcofi to global insurance powerhouse AXA S.A.
AXA sold Orcofi’s Orcanta to François-Henri Pinault’s Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (Kering). Founded in 1995, the exclusive boutiques sold for $42.5 million. In 2006, PPR sold Orcanta to Groupe Chantelle who now offers seven lingerie brands/retail networks: Chantelle, Passionata, Darjeeling, Orcanta, Chantal Thomass, Femilet, and Livera.
In 1996, L’Oréal acquired 50% of Lanvin from Orcofi. Lanvin was then acquired by Taiwanese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang from L’Oreal in 2001. Gordon-Choisy (one of the world’s most prominent tanneries specializing in exotic leathers) initially sold to LVMH and then to Hermes International. Luxembourg-based luxury holding company Luvanis SA (Vionnet, Mainbocher) bought Moynat in 2009. Groupe Arnault, LVMH’s CEO Bernard Arnault’s holding company bought Moynat in 2010.
In 2011 Qatar Luxury Group (QELA) acquired Le Tanneur & Cie (founded 1898) and Euronext listed Soco, also signing a licensing agreement with Michael Kors and Celine. Financiere Saint-Germain, parent of Lalique, Haviland Porcelain Works now owns Cristalleries Daum.
Grand Metropolitan acquired Orcofi in 2010.
Heilig-Meyers Furniture, the largest privately held furniture group in North America dating back to 1858, has achieved $100 billion in revenue in the last century. We own 30 of the top 50 home furnishing banners. By 2000, the group represented fine manufacturers such as Broyhill, Thomasville, Drexel Heritage, Henredon, Hickory Chair, Pearson, Lane Venture, and Maitland-Smith in almost 2,000 locations boasting $3 billion a year in annual revenue.
Heilig-Meyers and Rhodes Furniture have been major NASCAR sponsors and helped to raise millions of dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In addition to 8 national furniture retail brands, we manage 20 consumer brands including Four Seasons Home Accents, KidStore, and RentSmart.
Wickes Furniture, founded in 1971, grew to be the largest furniture retailer in the United States by the early 80s. The company is now part of the Heilig-Meyers family of brands.
Heilig-Meyers Furniture, Thornton Stores, Granite Furniture, Bruce’s Furniture Stores, Royal Jackson Furniture, Sterchi Brothers Furniture, Reliable Stores, Holthouse Furniture, The Furniture Center, WCK, Inc., Gibson McDonald Furniture, Reichart Furniture, Wolf Furniture Enterprises, McMahan’s Furniture, L. Fish Stores, Nelson Brothers Furniture, J.Homestock, Berrios Furniture, Self Service Furniture, Room Store Inc., Value House Furniture, Star Furniture Co., Mattress Discounters, Rhodes Inc., Marks Fitzgerald, Rhodes Furniture, John M Smyth’s, Homemakers Furniture, Rhodes-Haverty, Weberg Enterprises, Gallery Rodeo, Bukhara Rugs, Nunziato Leathers, Krause’s Furniture, Krauses-Castro, The Sofa Factory, Wickes Furniture, Four Seasons Home, Glick Furniture, ValueHouse Furniture, Kingsley, Sleep Tight America, American Family, American Backyard Collection, Turbo Tech, Four Seasons Home Accents, Phantom Flyer, Diamanell, Mighty Mow, KidStore, RentSmart, Centurion Crown, Room of Dreams, Riverly House, Trees & Hides, Nunziato, Regal Rest, Regal Rest Imperial, Crossroads.
Finlay Fine Jewelers has origins dating back to 1787 achieving $100 billion over two centuries. By 2010, Finlay was the largest operator of leased jewelry departments in over 1200 stores in the US and France (Société Nouvelle d’Achat de Bijouterie (SONAB) including:
May Department Stores; Foley’s, Filene’s, Kaufmann’s, Robinson’s May, Meier & Frank, Hecht’s, Strawbridge, Famous Barr, L.S. Ayers, Lord & Taylor. Federated Department Stores; Bloomingdale’s, Burdine’s, The Bon Marche’, Rich’s, Lazarus, Goldsmith. Saks Inc. Department Stores; Carson Pirie Scott, Boston Store, Bergner’s, Younker’s, Parisian’s. Marshall Field’s, Belk, Dillard’s, Bon Ton, Gottschalk’s, Elder Beerman and Bonwit Tellers.
Finlay graces red carpets at the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, Grammys, and Independent Spirit Awards. Vin Lee, the creator of the tennis earring/ear cuff/climber, is worn by celebrities, diplomats, royalty, most notably by family of the President of France at Cannes. The Diamond Standard brand sold to affiliate of Jimmy Choo Limited, subsidiary of Labelux.
Finlay owns 30 of the top 50 US jewelry brands:
Finlay Fine Jewelers, Diamond Park, Jay B. Rudolph, New York Jewelry Outlet, Park Promenade, Luxuria Fine Jewelers, Société Nouvelle d’Achatde Bijouterie (SONAB), Lundstrom Jewelers, Marks Brothers, Whitehall Co. Jewellers, L. Luria & Son, Friedman’s Inc., A.A. Friedman, Crescent Jewellers, Bucceli Gem, Ephraim Brasher, Japy Freres, Jean Goujon, Missirs, Wicked Woodies, L.D. Giddens & Son, Shifrin-Willens, Merksamers, Haute Bijouterie, Sweeneys, Corrigans, Barclay & Sons, Castlebergs, S&N Katz, Fine Jewelers Guild, Ceylats, Diamonds on Rodeo, Diamonell, Gotthelfs, Henricks, Vin Lee, Zemil, Bailen, DuQuet, Goldmans, Stockdale, Shreya, Silvermans, Wingrove, Woodstock, Coral Jewelers, Higinbotham, Jewelry Banker, Krisselmeyer, Ziaris, Linz Brothers.
*sold to investors
IMASCO Ltd. was formed to hold Grand Metropolitan’s liquor and tobacco assets. The group is the largest of it’s kind in the world. St. Aubin du Cormier Vin & Spirit is the Groups liquor collection available only at select private clubs and events.
United Cigar Stores was the largest chain of cigar stores in the United States. United Cigar Stores is the e-commerce subsidiary of IMASCO Ltd. which services over 1,500 tobacconists both wholesale and retail and direct to American clients. The company also operates the largest network of social clubs, most notably The Beverly Hills Cigar Club, rated Top 5 Private Memberships by Playboy Magazine and home to LOUIXS, the Bugatti Veyron of the cigar industry.
In early 2006, Grand Metropolitan added iHumidor, part of a $30 million portfolio, to its operations. Assets also include Cigar Club News, Cigar Registry, and Cigar Finder as consumers are relying more on technology to improve their experience. Portfolio brands in both retail and social clubs participate in most of the top 100 markets in the world including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Dubai.
The Handleman Company
The original company was established as a partnership distributing pharmaceuticals in 1934 and had achieved over $30 billion in revenue since its founding. During the 1950s the company made a decision that proved to be crucial to its future growth: it began wholesaling records. Eventually stocking the racks for major retailers like Kmart, Wal-Mart, and Woolworth, Handleman became better at managing record displays than a large store could be. By 1980 the firm stocked records at over 8,000 retail stores. It was a tough year for record sales, with sales across the entire industry declining. Despite these troubles, in 1980 the company became the largest record and tape wholesaler in the United States, moving past the Pickwick division of American Can.
The number of music retail departments serviced by Handleman had grown to 6,500. The firm serviced even more video departments–7,400, book sales in 2,600 retail departments, and now serviced 4,700 software retail departments. Handleman remained heavily dependent on its two largest customers. Kmart, which was experiencing financial trouble, accounted for 40 percent of Handleman’s sales, while Wal-Mart accounted for 25 percent.
In 1992, Cinemagic Marquee approached the Handleman Company about a partnership offering it’s patented technology for over 21,200 department locations. Grand Metropolitan began negotiations to purchase certain assets of the Handleman Company in 2008. We finalized our efforts in 2014 and are rebuilding product lines and holdings.
The Handleman Company hopes to again supply mass merchandisers and big box retailers with a new line of proprietary products in 2015. Cinemagic Marquee is being folded under the company banner.
Cinemagic Marquee patented technology that participated in founding the $6 billion/year automated display industry. Leading advertising and entertainment companies around the world including Universal Studios, Regal Cinemas, AMC, Disney, Lamar, and Clear Channel use these applications.
In the 1980s, Cinemagic Marquee was developing a multitude of projects within the entertainment industry initiated by relationships with Time Warner and Hanna Barbera. With the advent of the VCR, video stores were expanding at an exponential rate. Blockbuster Entertainment, the largest of the chains was in the midst of an industry rollup. It was opening a new location every 18 hours.
Cinemagic Marquee developed and improved upon in-store marketing tools employed by the video industry in the 1980s and 1990s. Movie studios, video distributors and snack and beverage companies competed to grab the attention of this audience. Cinemagic Marquees technology tripled that marketing real estate while adding motion and illumination. Our patented applications have expanded to billboards, stadiums, and mobile marketing throughout the world.
Select Early US Projects:
Walt Disney Complex
Universal Studios City Walk
Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Circus Circus, Las Vegas, NV
Ripleys Believe It Or Not Museums
Today, Cinemagic Marquee operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of luxury goods holding company Grand Metropolitan.
The Bohle Company
The Bohle Company is a full service corporate public relations firm located in Bel Air. We offer traditional services including company and product launch, sustaining PR activities and social media. TBC’s senior professionals also handle company positioning, branding, crisis counseling and investor relations activities for venture-backed.
TBC was Microsoft’s first PR agency and helped usher in the age of the personal computer. We launched Epson America, supporting corporate and marketing PR needs for the company’s initial five years; and Packard Bell, serving external marketing client for nine years, until the sale of Packard Bell to NEC.
After working for Atari for several years, we launched Crystal Dynamics and 3DO. Later TBC helped broaden the market for Alienware and launched games for Activision, Sega, Universal and Warner Bros. including DC Comics Justice League and the Matrix. We helped build the Game Developers Conference (GDC) into a major industry trade show and also currently handle Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) and PAX East, the largest gatherings of game enthusiasts, worldwide. TBC also produces the Serious Play Conference, along side the Serious Games Association and corporate partners that include Microsoft, Raytheon, IBM, Lockheed Martin, and The Getty Museum.
Technology and social media clients have included Blackline Systems, Active Identity, Tag World, Social Project (Viacom), Deal News and many Web 2.0 clients. The company also handles activities for several industry associations, AeroDef Manufacturing and RAPID, for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), instrumental players in the world of 3D printing.
Other notable clients:
Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro)
IGN (News Corp)
New Line Cinema (Time Warner)
Jim Henson (Disney)
Tropicana Casino & Resorts
Serious Play Conference, Serious Games Association, Serious Games News
Caesar Golf Company
Grand Traverse Resort signed Jack Nicklaus to build The Bear Golf Course in 1983. Next Arnold Palmer created the Legend at Shanty Creek, continuing with Tom Weiskopf, Gary Player, Chick Harbert and Gary Koch.
Struggling with the debt of expansion they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992. The General Retirement System of the City of Detroit, GTR’s principle lender, took over ownership. Their $40 million loan had grown to $80 million debt.
Vin Lee was granted a 3 year contract to turn around the Grand Traverse Resort. In order to drive occupancy outside of golf and off-season Lee repackaged GTR to emulate the offerings of Golden Doors, Canyon Ranch and the Evian Royal Palace in Switzerland creating The Spa at Grand Traverse Resort, The Midwest’s Best Vacation Destination.
With renewed revenue, GRS added condominiums and appropriated luxury home sites announced new golf courses designed by Gary Player and Lee Trevino.
After Grand Traverse Resort, Lee would have a residence on a golf course in FL that would lead to the creation of the Featherie and the Caesar Golf Company. From inception, the company focused on breaking all of the rules of golf, creating a line of high quality products designed not around power and distance but around precision and control. Vin Lee believes that strategic shot placement improves both performance and score.
The Caesar Featherie, named for the first golf balls used by royalty, was designed as a precision par 3-4 course ball. The industry’s very first dimple-less golf ball found itself breaking through the old stigmas held so long by golf enthusiasts. The smooth surface, high tech composition and superior construction provided accuracy never before seen in the short game. The company debuted at the Orlando PGA Show and was featured in 100s of media including print, television, and radio. The modest success of the smooth golf ball would lead to brand extensions in clubs and merchandise.