Cityscape

Lenexa-based Silpada acquired by Berkshire Hathaway entity

Lenexa-based Silpada built its success on sterling silver jewelry. The company closed down in July, and Friday, its assets were purchased by Richline Group, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Lenexa-based Silpada built its success on sterling silver jewelry. The company closed down in July, and Friday, its assets were purchased by Richline Group, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

A company controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett has purchased the assets of Lenexa-based Silpada.

The buyer was Richline Group Inc., a top maker and marketer of fine jewelry, as well as a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

Financial terms of the deal, announced Friday, were not disclosed. But it includes the Silpada brand name, which Richline called “still very strong,” as well as its jewelry designs and a large inventory of sterling silver and fashion jewelry, including unreleased merchandise.

Silpada has “a very large, very strong consumer fan base,” said Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer of Richline.

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Silpada had started adding items like handbags and accessories to its offerings, but Richline plans to focus on Silpada’s heritage in sterling silver jewelry. It will continue to produce and market the Silpada brand online, with a relaunch of the website in mid-November.

But it also will look at different sales models going forward, maybe a hybrid that will include home-based parties, or the model could change “extensively,” Hanna said. He has been talking to some of the company’s former representatives — which at one time numbered in the thousands — to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the direct-selling model.

“We have a lot of studying to do,” he said. “But we can’t jump and there’s no reason for us to jump.”

Silpada will be operated out of Richline’s New York office. Richline’s portfolio includes LeachGarner, Inverness, Rio Grande and Richline Brands.

Silpada’s founding Kelly and Walsh families will no longer be part of the company. In a statement they said they are “extremely pleased that the Silpada brand will live on as a member of the Richline family of brands.”

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Two stay-at-home moms began Silpada in 1997. It grew from its humble beginning into a spectacular success, becoming one of the largest party plan sellers of sterling silver jewelry in the country. Avon purchased the company for $650 million in 2010.

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But Avon had its own setbacks, and three years later Silpada’s founders bought the company back for $85 million.

In May they suddenly announced they would shut the company down in late July.

“Over the past three years, we (the owners) have personally invested tens of millions of dollars above and beyond the purchase price paid in July 2013” of $85 million to Avon Products, Silpada co-chairman Tom Walsh said in an emailed statement to The Star.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC

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