The Zurich-listed group derives more than half of its sales from jewellery and is the parent company of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. The company did not specify the amount of the purchase.

Founded in Brussels in 1829 by Charles Delvaux, the iconic luxury company had been owned by Asian investors since 2011.

That year, the brand, which has manufacturing facilities in the Belgian capital and eastern France, was bought from Belgians by the FHB company, now majority owned by the Fung family in Hong Kong.

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Delvaux has suffered from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic since 2020, notably the restrictions that have halted visits by Chinese tourists who are big consumers of its products.

According to the Belgian newspaper L’Echo, its sales have fallen by around 40 percent compared to the pre-Covid period.

For Richemont, the brand and its 50 or so boutiques around the world nevertheless represent “a unique heritage” in terms of notoriety.

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The Swiss group praised the “exceptional savoir faire and creativity” of Delvaux, which supplies the royal court of Belgium and uses Belgian imagery on its handbags, such as white clouds against a blue sky by the painter Rene Magritte.

“In 1908, Delvaux was the first to file an official patent for a leather handbag and can thus be called the inventor of the modern luxury handbag,” a statement said.

In Zurich, rumours had been circulating for some time about this acquisition.

But it “raises questions about the strategic logic” of Richemont, said Rene Weber, an analyst at Vontobel.

The Swiss giant had sold the Lancel handbag brand in 2018, reducing its fashion and accessories business to only about a tenth of total sales.

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