Control of a family-owned Canadian retail institution is being bought by a venture capital firm.
A controlling stake in William Ashley Ltd., a destination for upscale dinnerware and crystal, is being acquired by McLean Watson Investments Ltd. of Toronto.
A trailblazer in running a bridal gift registry, William Ashley has faced growing competition in the past several years from the likes of U.S.-based Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel and others rivals. Now, McLean Watson is looking to revitalize the business and possibly expand it internationally.
"William Ashley already has an international reputation, and McLean Watson is investigating a wide range of expansion opportunities," it said in a statement on Tuesday night.
Loudon Owen, managing partner of McLean Watson, was named chief executive officer of the chain, while Karen McGuire was appointed as president.
The iconic Toronto-based retailer was founded in 1947 by Tillie Abrams in a store on Toronto's tony Bloor Street West. It was a trailblazer in launching its lucrative gift registry soon after; in 1989 it opened a second store in Mississauga. Ms. Abrams died last year at the age of 98.