By Douglas Tate
William & Son, the London gunmaker and luxury company, has gone into administration. “Administration” is when a company becomes insolvent and is put into the hands of licensed insolvency practitioners, similar to Chapter Eleven here in the US.
William & Son is named for William Asprey, a seventh-generation member of the luxury-goods family whose New Bond Street emporium served England’s great and good between 1781 and 1995, when the name, premises and goodwill were sold to HRH Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei. Shortly after the Prince’s acquisition of Asprey, the gun department closed. Undaunted, William Asprey founded his own brand, which has been a proponent of handcrafted luxury since opening on Mount Street in 1999.
The stock and trade of the Mount Street store included London-best sidelock side-by-sides and over/unders as well as reconditioned guns.
In 2015 William & Son moved to larger premises on Bruton Street close to Holland & Holland. The move increased retail space to 8,600 square feet—the better to display William & Son’s eclectic offering of luxury watches, superb specialty silver, jewelry, cashmere clothing and shotguns under one roof.
In early July a notice appeared on the William & Son website announcing that the affairs, business and property of the company were being managed by the Joint Administrators. Later that month British firearms authority Diggory Hadoke posted on his Facebook page: “Very sad to hear of the demise of William & Son. The London shop has closed, and it looks like the business is finished . . . .
William & Son was a good company selling quality products and was doing well before the current crisis. How many more London-based businesses will be similarly hit by the drop in trade, which becomes unsustainable very quickly when you have high overheads?”
Time will tell.