Brussels, December 3 - British entrepreneur Stephen Nardelli has been speaking of his plans for the future of Donnay, the well-known sports racquet manufacturers he has just acquired from the government of Belgium's Walloon region for Belgian Francs 125 million - approximately Pounds sterling 2.5 million.
At a meeting with the Belgian media today, together with the Prime Minister of the Walloon region, Robert Collignon, Mr Nardelli confirmed that the acquisition will mean Donnay's headquarters will remain in Couvin, the company's home for more than 60 years. Future developments include a proposed pnds 20 million distribution centre in the area creating around 150 new jobs.
Donnay is a tennis legend, making court history in the 1970s when Bjorn Borg won 62 titles with a Donnay racquet. During the 1970's and 1980's the company was one of the world's leading producers, manufacturing up to 10,000 racquets a day. Recent famous names who have wielded the brand include Andre Agassi who won the Wimbledon title in 1992 with a Donnay Racquet.
Mr Nardelli said: "Donnay has always been a brand associated with excellence and we want to build on the brand's undiminished reputation for high quality and innovation. Our objective is to re-establish Donnay as a world-leading racquet brand associated with top-quality players.
"We have already established strong associations with a number of leading retail chains throughout Europe including the progressive and fast-growing Sports Division organisation in the UK, the dynamic Dutch retailer, Aiktie Sport and Sports Soccer, a major UK retail outlet.
"These partnerships, and a projected turnover for 1997 of pnds 200 million for CDS Holdings group of associated companies, will give us considerable leverage in the market place."
Advantage International, one of the world's leading event marketing and athlete management agencies, has been retained to run a worldwide public relations campaign.
Robert Collignon, the Walloon Prime Minister said that he was very happy with the agreement between the Walloon region and CDS Holdings.
"Donnay International is one of the finest companies in the Walloon Region and it has maintained a strong and positive identity over the years. It was very important for the Walloon Government to choose a partner able to develop this reputation. I believe that in CDS Holdings and Stephen Nardelli, we have found an excellent partner.
"CDS Holdings are acquiring a company not only with real commercial value but with skilled and knowledgeable employees who are committed to the future development of the company, in the region and worldwide."
He continued, "This agreement illustrates the firm determination of my government to open up the Walloon region to Europe and the rest of the world and reflects the warm welcome we will extend to any company looking to do the same."
Robert Robert, General Manager of Donnay International said: "Donnay is a strong brand worldwide with a reputation for quality and leading-edge technology. As early as 1984 the company was producing extra long racquets, now being heralded as a new innovation. New investment in the company is very welcome because it will allow us to become much more aggressive in the market-place."
Mr Nardelli commented, "We are committed to the future prosperity of Donnay International and we are working very closely with the government of the Walloon region to achieve all our objectives."