Carrie Rengers

Dean & DeLuca to sell to Thailand development company

An employee moves an order to a conveyor for shipment at the Dean & DeLuca facility in Wichita in 2000.
An employee moves an order to a conveyor for shipment at the Dean & DeLuca facility in Wichita in 2000. File photo

Leslie Rudd will stop running Wichita’s Dean & DeLuca much the same way he’s run it since acquiring the gourmet food brand in 1995: quietly.

On Monday, Pace Development Corp. of Thailand announced it has an agreement with Dean & DeLuca Holdings to buy Dean & DeLuca, including its assets and global business, for $140 million.

A representative in Rudd’s California office said he is out of the country and is sorry he couldn’t talk. She referred questions to an executive in Rudd’s Wichita office. That person didn’t returns calls over the weekend or on Monday.

Pace develops high-end mixed-use developments.

“We want to capitalise on the global convergence of super-premium mixed-use property development and lifestyle brands,” said Sorapoj Techakraisri, Pace’s CEO, in a statement.

“The best margins in the business of premium property development of the future is in offering customers a lifestyle – not just bricks and mortar,” he said. “People want a total delivered environment where they feel good about living.”

Currently, Dean & DeLuca has 11 outlets nationally along with two commissaries. It also has licensing agreements at 31 international sites.

Techakraisri said there’s “extraordinary potential for rapid growth globally” of the Dean & DeLuca brand.

“We expect to open hundreds of new stores in the next two years to add to the current 42 stores, and to increase our global footprint from eight countries to more than 15 countries in the same period through licensing and our own investments.”

Rudd, who is a Wichita native and owns Standard Beverage here, opened a Dean & DeLuca catalog center in a south Wichita warehouse with little fanfare after buying the company.

It then moved to a larger warehouse on East 37th Street North, which opened with no sign identifying the company.

In 2008, Rudd moved all of the company’s operations except merchandising, which remained in New York where Dean & DeLuca started with one shop, to Wichita headquarters. The company has kept a low profile, though, and shunned local media attention.

It’s not clear what will happen with the operations here.

Techakraisri says the company is “an outstanding organisation staffed with great talent.”

“We intend to retain the current management team and to incentivise them in line with our vision.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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