GUY LAROCHE SALES DECLINE ANOTHER 36%

PARIS — Guy Laroche, Groupe Bic’s money-losing fashion business, continued its downward slide in the first half. Bic said Laroche sales declined 36 percent from $7.5 million to $5.6 million.
Overall, however, Bic, which principally sells writing instruments and lighters, said its sales were up 21 percent to $697 million. (Dollar figures have been converted at current exchange.)
Earnings will be released on Sept. 26, the company said.
Last October, Bic chairman Bruno Bich said the firm intended to sell Laroche by the end of the year because it was not part of Bic’s core business, but no buyer has emerged. In June, Bich appointed Yves Mathieu president of the house as part of an attempt to turn the business around. Neither Bich nor Mathieu could be reached immediately for comment.
Laroche has seen some radical changes in recent years. Designer Alber Elbaz, who helped the house gain recognition among store buyers, resigned to head women’s ready-to-wear design at Yves Saint Laurent. (Elbaz was fired last year, after completing three seasons for YSL, and has yet to land a new post.) Subsequently, Laroche hired designer Ronald van der Kemp, but he was dismissed after only one season. A design team was installed in his place.

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