Buffet Group Expands In U.S.
...the French-based wind instrument maker’s commitment to the U.S. market, as well as its dramatically expanded product offering. Following a string of acquisitions that culminated in the €10 million purchase of B&S, the Buffet Group now offers the full spectrum of woodwind and brasswind instruments, and ranks as the world’s second-largest wind instrument maker by revenue.
French Ambassador to the U.S. Francois Delattre was on hand to celebrate the opening of the new 20,000-square-foot Buffet warehouse and office facility in Jacksonville. In brief remarks to employees and local dignitaries, he said that Buffet had created “style, artistry, and quality” that embodied the best of France, and that the company was a “national champion.”
The new facility is double the size of the previous one and includes additional, fully climate-controlled warehouse space for sensitive woodwinds and an expanded service facility. Francois Kloc, CEO of Buffet’s U.S. operations, said the new facility will make it possible to “do justice to a much broader product line,” and improve service to retailers and artists.
The new facility was designed exclusively for the Buffet Group and features three soundproof instrument testing facilities, an expanded parts area, and space to organize finished inventory by brands. Kloc said that onhand inventory of all parts for the company’s broad product line would allow for more timely service. “It’s all part of our goal to become the world reference in wind instruments,” he added.
A “who’s who” of notable musicians was on hand the previous afternoon to celebrate the opening of Buffet’s new artist facility on 36th Street in Manhattan. Mark Nuccio, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, performed for a crowd of friends, retailers, and artists, as did his colleagues, associate principal clarinetist Pascual Fortez, and principal trumpeter Matthew Muckey. Members of the Salvation Army Band, which has had a century-long relationship with Besson Brass, were also on hand to perform.
Buffet’s new artist facility includes a showroom for the company’s entire product line, as well as rooms where artists can try out instruments. It also houses a complete repair shop. Kloc said the showroom would be a “meeting place for artists and key influencers, where we could show our products and solicit their input.”
After it was purchased by French investment firm Argos Soditic in 2005, Buffet made major investments in industrial programs, management reorganization, worldwide distribution, and acquisition of new brands, including Antoine Courtois (2006), Besson (2007), Leblanc (2008), Schreiber & Keilwerth (2010), and B&S (2012). Lines under the newly acquired B&S umbrella include B&S trumpets, cornets, flugelhorns, trombones, tubas, and background brass; J. Scherzer trumpets; Master Hans Hoyer French horns; and Melton-Meinl Weston tubas and euphoniums. All are made in Germany, and all are most associated with high-end orchestral applications. Beaussant stated, “The acquisition of B&S strengthens Buffet Group’s position as the global reference in wind instruments. It will bring into our Group a 250-year expertise in brass instrument manufacturing, highly regarded know-how and talents, as well as the worldwide reputation for excellence of its brands. B&S is our fifth acquisition in the past four years, and we are very proud to continue to write our ‘rhapsody for talents’ with four more brands.”
In March 2012 The Buffet Group was purchased by Fondations Capital, an independent private equity firm with approximately €300 million under management. Buffet’s revenues have grown from €44 million in 2005 to €67 million last year, and its workforce has doubled to 560. Benefitting from a global distribution network and subsidiaries in the United States, Japan, Germany, and China, export sales account for more than 93% of Buffet Group’s revenues.
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