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Brown-Forman selling Lenox

July 24, 2005|by Daniel J. Sernovitz

The Brown-Forman Corp., based in Louisville, Ky., will sell substantially all of its Lenox, Inc. holdings, including its distribution center at 16507 Hunters Green Parkway in Hagerstown, to Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Department 56 for $190 million, the company said in a press release issued Thursday.

Pending federal approval, the sale is expected to be concluded in six to eight weeks. In February, the company announced it was exploring several options for its Lenox holdings due to flagging sales in the industry.

"The environment for this business has been challenging for several years as evidenced by the weaknesses throughout the U.S. tabletop and giftware industry," Brown-Forman Chairman and CEO Owsley Brown II said in the release. "We believe Department 56 is very well positioned to focus exclusively on and grow this outstanding portfolio of brands."

Brown-forman said in the release the company selected Department 56 following a competitive bidding process and that the sale "will enable Brown-Forman to concentrate its energies even further on our highly successful global beverage alcohol business," Brown said. For the fiscal year ended April 30, the Lenox holdings to be acquired by Department 56 posted $465 million in sales. Lenox has key facilities in Lawrenceville, N.J., Langhorne, Pa., Pomona, N.J., Kinston, N.C., and Hagerstown, and it employs 2,850 people.

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Brown-Forman, which will retain ownership of the Lenox headquarters property in Lawrenceville, N.J. and as well as Lenox's Brooks & Bentley subsidiary in the United Kingdom, projected an 18-cent net reduction in its sale price for the company's 2006 fiscal year income. The company is conducting a separate strategic review of Brooks & Bentley and plans to sell the Lawrenceville property.

- By Daniel J. Sernovitz

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