Four staged investments fuelled the success of Links of London, which finally sold for £46m in 2006. Links was a pioneering venture that became a global luxury jewellery brand and spearheaded the democratisation of luxury and design in gold and silver jewellery.
Founded by John Ayton and Annoushka Ducas, Links became one of the great success stories of the 1990s and the new millennium – a jewellery brand known for its iconic design.
The investment by the Clark Group happened in four tranches and funded the successful growth of Links from a turnover of £7.5 million in 1999 to sales of over £28 million in 2006. The seven-year interest was symptomatic of the culture of the Clark Group: supportive and ready to help when required, while still allowing the management team sufficient autonomy to develop the business on a day-to-day basis and drive growth. Peter Dyoss, then Clark Group Financial Director, was its tireless champion and attended every one of its board meetings.
Links was a pioneering venture that became a global luxury jewellery brand and spearheaded the democratisation of luxury and design in gold and silver jewellery.
In 2006, Links of London sold for £46 million to Folli Follie, the Greek jewellery, watches and fashion accessories brand that was strong in the Far East. It was considered to be a satisfactory fit – a family business with a similar structure and culture to Links that also brought with it the much-desired strong distribution channels throughout China, Japan and the Far East.
Annoushka has strong Russian heritage and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris in the 1980s after which she followed inspirational travel opportunities, stopping to spend time in Hong Kong where she first began to design jewellery. In 1990, together with her husband, John Ayton, Annoushka founded Links of London, a pioneering venture that became a global luxury jewellery brand. It became of the great success stories of the 90s and the new millennium, a pioneering venture that spearheaded the democratisation of luxury and design in jewellery and silver.
They built Links of London to sales of over £50 million before selling the company to Folli Follie SA in late 2006. Annoushka is currently the Creative Director of the new jeweller that takes her name occupying a largely uninhabited position in a market presently polarised between High Jewellery and the traditional jeweller. She is the driving force behind this exciting new concept that perfectly captures the mood of the moment by bringing a new dimension of fun, freedom and self-expression to the world of fine jewellery and one that reflects her own background, experiences, tastes and travels. Annoushka is known for her energy and enthusiasm in her pursuit of endless creativity and her exploration of new ideas.
With her gift for instinctively understanding the needs of the market and dreams and desires of the client Annoushka is dedicated to continual innovation and ingenuity, from design and manufacture, through to marketing, packaging and communications. She takes an active role in searching out and nurturing young creative talent, instigating and overseeing a very successful annual jewellery design project with students at Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design. Annoushka’s work has been widely recognised and rewarded with various awards and accolades; amongst others she was winner of several prestigious jewellery industry awards, including Jewellery Designer of the Year, Gift Designer of the Year, Brand of the Year (twice), and she was short-listed for the Veuve Cliquot Businesswoman of the Year.
John graduated in Modern History from Oxford University in 1983, subsequently practicing corporate law in London and Hong Kong. Leaving the legal profession in 1995 he served on the Board of Halston Borghese Inc., a U.S. based Cosmetics Company, and was responsible for restructuring their Japanese and German operation. John is an established player in the world of luxury goods, having founded Links of London with his wife, Annoushka Ducas, in 1990, one of the great success stories of the 90s and the new millennium, a pioneering venture that spearheaded the democratisation of luxury and design in jewellery and silver.
With his gift for instinctively understanding the needs of the market and dreams and desires of the client John is dedicated to continual innovation and ingenuity, from design and manufacture, through to marketing, packaging and communications. They built Links of London to sales of over £50 million before selling the company to Folli Follie SA in late 2006. John stepped down from the company in October 2007. Upon leaving Links of London, John invested in a new-start up business, Bremont Watch Company alongside Nick & Giles English, subsequently becoming Chairman of the Company. In under 18 months Bremont has become a key player in the luxury watch industry, recently expanding into the United States and Asia. In July 2009 he and Annoushka Ducas launched “Annoushka” a fine jewellery brand.
Annoushka’s designs are sold exclusively through its own boutiques in Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Harvey Nichols. The brand recently opened a design studio and flagship store at 42 Cadogan Gardens, adjacent to Sloane Square. John is a director of Walpole, the organisation and community aimed at serving and promoting British luxury brands, and founder of Walpole Brands of Tomorrow, mentoring and supporting the best of emerging British talent in the luxury sector. Launched in 2007 the bespoke mentorship and coaching programme helps aspiring British luxury brands of the future to fulfil their potential. These include the jewellery brands Astley Clark, Shawn Leane and Maui. John is also Chairman of the Pallant House Gallery Development Board – winner of the Museum of the Year Gulbenkian Prize for museums and galleries in 2007 and nominated for European Museum of the Year 2009.