CHOPARD ACQUIRES 49 PERCENT STAKE IN DE GRISOGONO

Byline: Robert Murphy

PARIS — De Grisogono, the high-end jewelry brand best known for its use of black diamonds, has sold a 49 percent stake to Swiss watch and jewelry firm Chopard.
Fawaz Gruosi, De Grisogono designer and now 51 percent owner, said the deal would help finance the company’s expansion. He said the agreement was finalized late last week. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“The reasoning was very simple,” said Gruosi in a phone interview from Geneva. “It became impossible to grow the company on my own. I needed more cash flow.”
Gruosi’s link to Chopard is more than pecuniary. He is married to Caroline Scheufele, vice president of Chopard, which is owned by Switzerland’s Scheufele family.
“There were other possible scenarios,” he offered. “But in the end it’s logical to stay in the family. There is room to talk in a family.”
Gruosi, who started in the jewelry business while still a young teenager, has held various positions at both Harry Winston and Bulgari. Then, he had an epiphany.
“I discovered that I was a designer,” he said. “I decided to go against the market and do just what I felt like doing.”
In 1995 he founded De Grisogono, which has grown steadily ever since. Last year, sales topped $60 million, growing from $13.8 million in 1998, according to Gruosi.
The brand, whose American doors include Bergdorf Goodman, has stand-alone boutiques in Geneva, London, Rome and Gstaad, Switzerland.
“By the end of the year, I hope to open in Paris and New York,” he added.

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