Rechner Named as President of Swiss Army Brands

Susanne Rechner has been tapped by Victorinox A.G. to be president of Swiss Army Brands Inc. (SABI), distributor of Swiss Army Brand watches, if Victorinox’s offer to buy SABI’s outstanding shares is successful.

Rechner—who led the successful U.S. relaunch of Swiss Army watches—is SABI’s senior vice president-global watch, and chief executive officer of Victorinox Swiss Army Watch SA (VSA), a joint venture of the two firms. VSA is the international marketer and distributor of Swiss Army and Victorinox watches and clocks. Rechner would continue as CEO of VSA.

Rechner joined SABI as senior vice president-retail division in 2000. Previously, she was a vice president at the Movado Group Inc., and earlier worked at Seiko Corporation of America.

Announcement of Rechner’s pending appointment came July 29, the same day SABI’s two top executives—chairman Peter W. Gilson and president A. Jeffrey Turner, responsible for SABI’s successful brand extension and licensing program and introduction of numerous new products—said they would resign and sell their SABI shares to Victorinox AG. The privately held Swiss company in Ibach, Switzerland, already owns 67% of SABI, which distributes Victorinox products.

On June 12, Victorinox made a proposal to SABI to acquire for $9 per share all outstanding shares of common stock not already held by Victorinox and its affiliates. The buyout would total $24.9 million.

Shareholders had until mid-August to decide whether to sell. For the offer to succeed, Victorinox needed at least 90% of the company, including the 67% it already owns. If that happens, say published reports, Swiss Army would be merged with SABI Acquisition Corp., a Delaware-based, wholly owned subsidiary of Victorinox.

Swiss Army Brands Inc. is the exclusive U.S., Canadian, and Caribbean marketer of Swiss Army Brand watches, sunglasses, and writing instruments, and the Victorinox Original Swiss Army Knife. It also distributes Bear MGC knives and multi-tools as well as cutlery under the R.H. Forschner brand, and licenses the Victorinox crest and trademark for travel gear and apparel. The company’s products are distributed to more than 3,800 retailers and wholesalers. It has a flagship store in New York City’s SoHo district and maintains a company Web site at www.swissarmy.com.