By  on November 18, 2008

PARIS — De Grisogono, the Swiss jewelry and watch firm, is looking for an investor.

Fawaz Gruosi, who founded the brand 15 years ago, said he has been actively looking for an investor to bring in new capital so he can solve cash flow issues and develop his business.

“We need a partner in order to grow,” he said, adding he was looking for a minority partner but that he was “open” to other solutions.

Gruosi, who bought back a 49 percent share in his company from Chopard two years ago, said a deal to bring an investor on board just fell through due to turbulence on financial markets around the world.

“The situation today is not positive for a transaction,” said Gruosi, who did not reveal the name of the abortive partner. “Maybe I’ll have to wait until things calm down.”

“The company is not small anymore, it’s ready to grow, but we need capital,” he continued. “We have problems meeting demand because we don’t have the infrastructure we need to grow.”

De Grisogono should reach 136 million Swiss francs, or $113.5 million, in sales this year, about the same as last year, according to Gruosi.

He said profit should grow more than last year due to cost-cutting, including cutting back advertising and nixing a glitzy party de Grisogono usually sponsored in Cannes during the film festival. “It was a tough decision at the time,” said Gruosi. “But we’re happy we made it now.”

Looking for a partner isn’t keeping Gruosi from expanding. He said three de Grisogono shops were set to open next year, including a second location in New York, in the old Bulgari space in the Pierre Hotel. Shops also are scheduled to open in Singapore and Las Vegas.

Though Gruosi said business presently was tough, he said high-ticket items continued to sell. “It’s the steel pieces and small jewelry pieces that aren’t selling now,” said Gruosi. “More important pieces are doing better.”

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