London-based Sanctuary Group is ramping up its global merchandising business through the acquisition of World Online Merchandising. The New York-based company counts Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel,

London-based Sanctuary Group is ramping up its global merchandising business through the acquisition of World Online Merchandising. The New York-based company counts Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel, N*E*R*D, Mis-teeq and Lisa Marie Presley among its key music clients. Sanctuary did not reveal how much it had paid for the American firm, which had net assets of $2.26 million as of Feb. 29.

World Online Merchandising has been integrated into Bravado, Sanctuary's existing visual-rights licensing and merchandising company. Bravado clients include Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Gorillaz, Celine Dion, Craig David, Oasis, Iron Maiden and Depeche Mode.

The latest purchase, explains Sanctuary executive chairman Andy Taylor, "builds on our strength in the area of merchandising and visual-rights licensing and importantly gives us a major presence in the United States, the world's largest market for visual rights, as well as an impressive client base."

World Online Merchandising CEO Tom Bennett becomes CEO of Bravado Merchandising Inc./Sanctuary Merchandising North America, reporting to Bravado Group CEO Barry Drinkwater.

Sanctuary entered the merchandising market in January 2002 through the acquisition of Bravado International. At the time, Sanctuary paid £7.9 million ($11.5 million) for the company, but less than three months later, Sanctuary's balance sheet revealed its new subsidiary had contributed revenues of £8.6 million ($12.6 million). Bravado is part of Sanctuary's Artist Services division.