PARIS - Swiss beauty manufacturer Art & Fragrance SA has sold a 49.2 percent share of the French crystal and jewelry house Lalique to Financière Saint-Germain for 20.5 million euros, or $29.3 million at current exchange.The deal was revealed as Zollikerberg, Switzerland-based Art & Fragrance posted first-half losses of 6.2 million Swiss francs, or $5.9 million at average exchange, due to challenging market conditions and the cost of restructuring Lalique, which it acquired from Groupe Pochet in February. Art & Fragrance's six-month sales came in at 45.9 million Swiss francs, or $43.8 million.Paris-based Financière Saint-Germain's stake excludes Lalique Parfums, whose sales grew 10 percent in the half, which will remain in Art & Fragrance¹s portfolio, which includes Parfums Grès, Jaguar Parfums, Parfums Alain Delon and Ultrasun sun care.Slower sales of crystal and jewelry at Lalique, which posted an overall loss of 6.4 million Swiss francs, or $6.1 million, in the first half, reflected negative consumer sentiment, Art & Fragrance said, adding its reorganization of the brand continues as planned. Since the acquisition, Art & Fragrance has tapped a new artistic director at Lalique, closed five unprofitable stores and downsized three others, as well as replaced management at the firm's production site.With the savoir faire of new investors, executives hope to nip the sales downturn in the bud. Financière Saint-Germain, the private holding company of the Amouyal family, also owns Haviland porcelain and tableware and crystal brand Cristalleries Royales de Champagne. "In the Amouyal family, we are gaining a strategic shareholder for Lalique who is prepared to make a long-term commitment and has considerable knowledge in the porcelain and crystal segments," stated Silvio Denz, chairman of the board of Art & Fragrance and Lalique.
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