JANUARY 7, 2008
Williams bumps up cash with new Oris deal
Williams F1 has been quietly building up its sponsorship this winter with new longterm deals with many of its backers and rumours of a major new deal in the weeks ahead. The latest announcement relates to the Oris watch company although many other Williams sponsors have recently increased their involvement. There have been rumours for months that there is a big new backer in the wings and there have even been reports that this will be the Icelandic investment company Baugur, which has been involved with Williams for some years with its Hamleys brand.
Baugur was rumoured to have been the backer of Prodrive's F1 operation but now that this has disappeared the suggestion is that Baugur may increase its involvement with Williams. At the moment Williams sources are saying nothing.
Baugur's strategy has been to acquire companies possessing strong retail brands with potential for growth in their home markets and on the international scene. These acquisitions have included Mosaic Fashions, which owns and operates six womenswear fashion brands, the supermarket chain Iceland, Hamleys toy retailer, the Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb jewellery chains, the fashion chains MK One and Jane Norman, the health products chain Julian Graves, tea and coffee company Whittard of Chelsea and the department store chains House of Fraser and Magasin Du Nord.
It remains to be seen whether the Baugur rumours are correct but there is no doubt that one way or another Williams is now much better funded than it has been since the split with BMW and the team's focus is to build cars that will return it to the top in F1.