Kwikset, Italian Firm Form Marketing Joint Venture


Kwikset Corp., a manufacturer of residential locks, has formed a joint venture with an Italian company to distribute its lines of "designer" hardware for doors and related accessories in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Known primarily as a manufacturer of medium-cost residential locks, Kwikset's venture with Italy's Valli & Colombo marks its first move into the pricier, designer hardware segment. Kwikset is a subsidiary of Black & Decker.

The agreement comes at a time of growing sales in the home-remodeling industry. As high housing prices put new houses out of reach of buyers in many parts of the country, people are sprucing up their homes rather than buying new ones, according to Steve Price, a Kwikset marketing manager.

The designer line, called Valli & Colombo by Kwikset, includes solid brass door handles, knobs, escutcheons, coat hangers and other door-hardware accessories.

"Some of the product lines will be made in solid brass and there'll be some in zinc alloys and brass casting plated in 24-karat gold," Price said.

Marinelli Formenti, who represents the Italian company in the United States, said the agreement "will give our products quick and broad access to the large North American market, and our designer hardware and the Kwikset line will complement each other perfectly."

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