Feb 10, 2020
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Carel focuses on export and online sales

Feb 10, 2020

The Carel group, made up of footwear brands Carel, Carvil and Accessoire Diffusion, grew by 2% in 2019 with more than 11.5 million euros in sales.

The president of the group, Frédérique Picard, commented: “We faced a bit of a slump in 2018, despite the fact that our goal had been to cross the 12 million euro line.” Carel suffered, in part, from the Yellow Vest movement. Its Parisian locations and department store stands had to close on several occasions throughout 2018, especially on weekends, hurting the brand’s profits.

The Bibi bag from Carel - Carel

The Carel group has recovered in 2019 thanks to its namesake footwear brand, Carel. The retro-inspired, low-heeled “trotters” for which the brand is known made up 85% of its sales alone.

Founded by Georges Carel in 1952, the brand notably launched a bag collection inspired by the French leather craftsman Léon Flam at the end of last year. “Carel was initially named ‘Carel Paris chausseur et maroquinier’ (Carel Paris footwear and leather goods). As such, the bag has been one of Carel’s core items for a while,” said Picard.

Carel, along with its men’s counterpart Carvil, were first acquired by Picard in 2010, with the backing of 123 Investment Managers. This was followed by the purchase of Accessoire Diffusion, the women’s footwear brand, in 2015, from the Vivarte group. The collaboration with Léon Flam is not the first time the brand’s archives have been put to use. A bag collection, counting three models in total, was also launched after revisiting past collections. Inspired by the hat boxes of the ‘60s, the “Bibi” (priced at 365 euros) is a round handbag that comes with interchangeable covers. This echoes the brand’s former airline collection for flight attendants on both Air Inter and Air France.

However, it's not a diversified product range that Carel is counting to achieve the double-digit increase it has in mind for 2020. Rather, the group is looking towards improved digitalization and international sales. In order to meet its targets, Carel will be relying in particular on Mirabaud Patrimoine Vivant, the fund co-chaired by former Minister Renaud Dutreil which acquired a stake in Carel in April of 2019.

Carel has seen its online sales rise by 60% every year over the past three years, enabling it to attract a more international customer base, notably in China, the UK and the USA. Moreover, the brand’s social media following has reached new heights, increasing by 10% over the past year.

In France, in addition to its own stores and department store stands, Carel counts more than 30 distributors. Internationally, the brand has more than 50 points of sale, including The Webster and the Galeries Lafayette in China. Lastly, it is worthwhile to mention that Carel will be among the brands featured at historic French shopping centre La Samaritaine, currently under renovation.

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