A massive debt rescheduling and a multi-million investment have helped French clothing giant Vivarte survive, but that comes at a cost: CEO Mark Lelandais is to resign.
2.8 billion euro in debt
The holding, which owns Naf Naf, Kookaï, André and La Halle, has been struggling for quite a while as it faces competition from cheaper chains and e-tailers. Its debt had grown to 2.8 billion euro, which made a debt rescheduling unavoidable.
Vivarte managed to officially seal that deal this week, with 2 billion euro in debt transformed into shares and another 500 million euro transformed into an investment. "From now on, Alcentra, Bason, GoldenTree and Oaktree are major shareholders", Vivarte said. They will replace investment funds Charterhouse, Chequers and Sagard.
"Now that a huge pile of debt has been cleared, our numbers have been cleansed and the number of debtors has been reduced from 160 to 113, we have plenty of financial means to transform our development and our strategy", Vivarte said.
CEO Marc Lelandais to leave
The new shareholders will appoint 6 of the 9 members on the new board of directors. CEO Marc Lelandais will no longer be part of that board, even though he had only been with Vivarte since 2012, coming from Lancel (part of the Swiss Richemont group) to stop the company's downfall.
His strategy was to invest heavily in La Halle (formerly La Halle Aux Chaussures and La Halle Aux Vêtements) and transform it into a single department store for Vivarte's B brands. That move failed miserably and he will now be replaced by Richard Simonin, who the investment funds had already presented as a replacement in September.
Labour unions now fear the worst. "We have no illusions about what the new owners wish to do: they are funders, not industrialists", CFDT unionist Jean-Louis Alfred told press agency Reuters. He fears a considerable La Halle stores will have to close, while the group might sell profitable brands like Minelli or Caroll.
Vivarte has 4,500 stores in France, run by 22,000 employees, while the group managed a 3 billion euro turnover last year.