Swiss conglomerate DKSH is selling well-known watch brand Maurice Lacroix a mere four years after buying it.
It’s also parting ways with the rest of its watch division: the Glycine brand—which it purchased in 2013—and a joint venture with Davidoff for Davidoff-branded watches.
On a conference call, president and CEO Joerg Wolle said he hopes to sell the brands within a year.
“We could sell it piece by piece, we could sell it as a package, we could sell several brands together, or the manufacturing units together,” he said. “Years ago, from time to time we have been approached by interested parties, and we are in the process of starting a professional sales effort.”
DKSH first purchased a majority stake in the 40-year-old Lacroix brand in 2011.
Wolle called the watch business “no reason for joy” recently, noting it is now showing losses after years of profitability.
“What has changed is threefold,” Wolle said. “We see the tremendously increased consolidation with four big groups who are basically buying one by one the independent watch brands. What has changed is the tremendous decline in demand, particularly in Hong Kong and China. And what has changed is the Swiss franc’s strength, which remains here to stay for now.”
So the company “had to decide, do we fully commit to the watch brand business, where we need to invest heavily, or do we withdraw from it?” he said. “We are separating from this business to concentrate on our core competencies.”
In a statement to employees printed in WatchPro, Lacroix general manager Stéphane Waser said the brand will be best developed under “new leadership.”
“Since DKSH’s involvement in 2011, they provided Maurice Lacroix with financial stability,” he said. “We rejuvenated the brand, gained a considerable reputation, and enjoyed improved positioning in the market.”
He vowed to “continue to implement our vision and strategy.”
Lacroix’s U.S. office declined comment.
At least one potential new owner has already bowed out—a spokesperson for Swatch told Bloomberg it was “not interested” in new brands.
The company recently named Paul Erhardt managing director of its North American operations.