Supplier News

BIG JEWELRY MAKER MOVES OVERSEAS

The Napier Co., a 124-year-old Meriden, Conn., manufacturer of fashion jewelry, was closed down Oct. 13 by Victoria & Co. of Warwick, R.I., which bought it only last March. About 300 employees were told to leave the plant immediately. They will receive paychecks and health benefits until Dec. 15.

Richard Andreoli, Victoria chief operating officer, said in a statement that “Fierce competition has forced us to lower our costs” and that the company “must move offshore to remain competitive.” Victoria officials did not return telephone calls from JCK seeking comment.

James Marquardt, president of Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America, tells JCK that overseas competition has had a negative effect on the nonprecious and low-end 14k segments of the industry for about 15 years, with many manufacturers moving offshore. “This is definitely an economic issue,” he says. “Everyone in the nonprecious side is feeling the same pressure.”

Napier, founded in 1890, had operated in the same plant for more than 100 years, according to the Meriden Record-Journal. In 1980, it had 1,000 employees in the Meriden facility, a plant in Providence, R.I., a New York showroom, and sales offices worldwide. In the 1990s, with sales declining sharply, Napier closed its Providence plant, consolidated its field offices, and laid off 20% of its workforce. Victoria & Co., which owns Nine West and Tommy Hilfiger, bought the company in March for $7 million.

Meriden Mayor Joseph J. Marinan Jr. told the Record-Journal that the Napier plant closing was “the most devastating news we’ve had since I’ve been mayor.” According to the paper, the Meriden Business & Learning Center, the Greater Meriden Chamber of Commerce, and the state Department of Labor will try to aid the displaced workers. A state senator and state representative reportedly are exploring ways that the state could help.—Barbara Spector

AURAFIN ACQUIRES BRAUNSTEIN INC.

Aurafin LLC, a leading U.S. manufacturer and distributor of gold jewelry, has agreed to acquire Braunstein Inc. of New York City. Financial terms of the agreement between the two privately held companies were not disclosed.

Braunstein president and CEO Jack Granofsky will remain on board as senior vice president of the new division at Aurafin’s new corporate headquarters in Tamarac, Fla. Granofsky will also maintain the Braunstein New York City location.

Aurafin, founded in 1982 by chairman and CEO Michael Gusky, manufactures and distributes gold jewelry to retail jewelers, department stores, mass merchants, and electronic and mail-order outlets.

GROBET USA BUYS GRIFFITH

Grobet USA, a manufacturer and distributor of precision tools, equipment, and supplies for the jewelry industry, has acquired the Griffith Chemical Co. of Boulder, Colo., a manufacturer of chemicals and solutions.

Grobet will produce the entire line of Griffith products in its New Jersey manufacturing facility.