Schott Zwiesel Makes Agreement With Fortessa

Schott Zwiesel AG, of Germany, has announced its intention to purchase an equity stake in Fortessa, Inc., in a major strategic marketing transaction designed to leverage the complementary strengths of the two companies.

Schott Zwiesel is a leading producer of high-quality crystalline glassware, and Fortessa is a diversified developer and marketer of tableware. The move by the two companies shows a long-term commitment to the development of the Schott Zwiesel brand in the Americas as a key component of Fortessa's specialized, but diverse tabletop range, targeted to the high end of the market.

Under the agreement, Sterling, VA-based Fortessa will market Schott Zwiesel products to the U.S. retail trade, effective July 1, 2004, and to the U.S. foodservice trade, effective October 1, 2004, the companies said in a joint announcement. "Our companies form a seamless fit," said Dr. Andreas Karl Buske, Member of the Board, at Schott Zwiesel. "Our quality glassware dovetails perfectly with Fortessa's philosophy of leading the way in tableware -- and with its emphasis on value, craftsmanship and trend-setting designs," Dr. Buske said.

The companies, though from different backgrounds, share a similar corporate culture. "Our companies share comparable objectives and views -- we're equally passionate about our work, with a long-term vision of where and what we want our businesses to be: the leaders in our targeted areas of expertise," said Scott Hamberger, vice president at Fortessa.

Based in Zwiesel, in the Bavarian Forest, one of the world's prime glass-manufacturing centers, the famed German company has been a leader in the art of glass-making for more than 100 years, credited with many industry "firsts," including the first fully-automated production of blown-glass stemware in 1967. In the 1990s, as the industry struggled with the environmental issues of lead and other heavy metals, the company was the first glassmaker to produce lead-free crystal glass of superb quality and brilliance. Its latest breakthrough is the patented Tritan(R) technique for producing extra-strong crystalline stemware. The process combines a proprietary mix of materials with tempering of vulnerable points to form the most resilient fine stemware in the world. In 2001, Schott Zwiesel was purchased from its larger industrial parent company, Schott Mainz, in a management buyout led by Dr. Robert Hartel and his partner, Dr. Buske.

Fortessa, the integrated designer, developer and marketer of high-quality tableware and accessories, started in 1933 as a successful purveyor of fine porcelain dinnerware. The company grew rapidly, adding other tabletop categories -- glassware, flatware and hollowware, specialty glass dinnerware and accessories -- for a "total table" operation. Fortessa has a diversified operation and base of customers in all channels of tableware distribution.

"Schott Zwiesel is truly the world's best glassware. The technical expertise at the factory allows us to offer top-quality design and value that meet the needs of our market. Consumers now understand quality in glassware and demand that quality in glassware. With Schott Zwiesel we can offer professional design for everyday appreciation and enjoyment," noted Fortessa's Scott Hamberger.

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