PARIS — Less than a year after purchasing a majority stake in Mauboussin, Galeries Lafayette is folding Guérin Joaillerie operations into the French high street jewelry label, a spokeswoman for the group told WWD.
The move highlights the challenges facing accessibly priced jewelry labels, which have traditionally served to draw consumers into department stores and shopping centers. Even globally known high street jewelers like Pandora have had to invest heavily in marketing for survival as people increasingly turn to online channels for purchases.
Family-owned Galeries Lafayette bought the jewelry retailer Didier Guérin in 2012, and, several years later, repositioned it as a premium jewelry brand, renaming it Guérin Joaillerie and focusing on locations in city centers. Its decision to fold it into Mauboussin was first reported by Agence France-Presse.
Efforts to build a more glamorous image, which included advertising campaigns and collaborations with fashion designers for limited-edition collections, failed to ignite the brand, however, and it incurred losses in recent years.
Meanwhile, Galeries Lafayette revealed plans to invest in a majority stake in Mauboussin last summer, deepening its hold on the accessible luxury jewelry category.
Mauboussin, a historic Place Vendôme jeweler, was founded in 1827 and upended norms in France by advertising reduced prices for necklaces and diamond rings at prices often above the $1,000 mark.
The family-owned French department store teamed up with Mauboussin chairman Alain Némarq for the purchase of the jewelry house. Némarq has steered the branded jeweler’s expansion through quirky advertising and accessible positioning, targeting women buying for themselves.
The jeweler relinquished its Place Vendôme flagship in the early 2000s, opting for the nearby Rue de la Paix, where rents were more affordable.
Maubussin, which generates annual sales of nearly 80 million euros, is sold in a network of 75 stores in France and 20 abroad as well as hundreds of multibrand stores.
Around 163 employees of Guérin Joaillerie will be affected by the plans, which entail transferring sales points over to the Mauboussin label, and 120 of the employees are being offered new positions elsewhere in the group, according to the spokeswoman.
Industry representative body Francéclat last week said the watches and jewelry market in France generated 5.6 billion euros in sales last year, a 2 percent rise compared to the previous year, a performance that was weighed down by transportation strikes in December.