'Debrett's', the peers' bible, put on sale with £10m price tag

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The Independent Online

After 230 years of charting the British aristocracy, Debrett's Peerage could be relaunched as a high-street brand following the announcement yesterday that the blue-bloods' bible is up for sale.

After 230 years of charting the British aristocracy, Debrett's Peerage could be relaunched as a high-street brand following the announcement yesterday that the blue-bloods' bible is up for sale.

Sterling Publishing Group, which bought Debrett's' publishers in the late Eighties, suggested that the brand could be used outside publishing; for instance, for a chain of upmarket shops or hotels. It is thought the company is seeking offers from groups such as LVMH, the French luxury goods group.

Research by Sterling showed that, while only a tiny fraction of consumers had seen a Debrett's publication, half the people in the ABC1 social classes knew of their existence.

The company said it was looking for a partner or buyer for the series of publications that carry the Debrett's name, as it did not fit with their other titles, which are all business-to-business publications.

Debrett's has added to its original Peerage & Baronetage with the Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners and People of Today, a review of the "new élite". Recently it launched a series of poorly-received coffee table books, including the Debrett's Guide to Outrageous Party Games.

Simone Kesseler, Sterling's chief executive, said: "The brand has very high recognition but we cannot put sufficient investment into it. Also, as a business-to-business publisher we do not have the know-how to develop the brand. "It could be used as an aspirational brand. It carries strong core values of Englishness and authority."

However, Peter York, the style guru, said yesterday that the brand appeared dated and would not be easy to shift into other areas. "Being well known does not make you resonant and relevant. There is room to question the value of the Debrett's name and its 'stretchability' to other activities. Also, some of its authority has declined as toffs, which are its subject, have become less compelling."

The Debrett's business had sales last year of about £3m. Sterling is thought to be seeking between £5m and £10m.

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