Aug 17, 2020
FIB wins battle for Camaïeu as court rejects CEO's plan
Aug 17, 2020
The Lille commercial court has chosen Financière immobilière Bordelaise (FIB) to take over ready-to-wear brand Camaïeu, which had been in receivership since the end of May. FIB will take on more than 2,600 employees out of the approximately 3,100-strong workforce.
That’s according to a judgment on August 17 that also saw the other takeover offer by the current CEO of Camaïeu being rejected.
"It is a victory for a company, it is also a victory for the law,” FIB’s lawyer Olivier Pardo told AFP. It wants Camaïeu "to become again the immense company that it was”. This takeover offer was also preferred by the firm’s Social and Economic Committee (CSE), as well as the inter-union CFDT-CGT-FO.
FIB, an investment fund specialising in commercial real estate, is headed by businessman Michel Ohayon, who notably acquired 22 Galeries Lafayette franchises in the regions in 2018. It is to take over 511 stores and 2,659 employees, out of the 634 stores and 3,146 current employees of the company.
“We could not trust people [in the current leadership],” said Omar Rahni of CGT. “We will start again on new foundations.”
But there will be job losses with more than 460 people either taking voluntary redundancy or being dismissed as part of the plan to safeguard overall jobs.
CSE’s lawyer Stéphane Ducrocq said: “It’s a lesser evil. There are no more debts, the most fragile stores are eliminated, it should work.”
FIB said it would continue to work with the current logistics service provider Dispéo and will keep the head office in Roubaix (North) and the logistics building for five years.
The offer by CEO Joannes Soënen and three existing shareholder funds (GoldenTree, CVC and Farallon) had involved keeping 2,520 jobs and taking over 446 stores.
But AFP reported that the court felt “no recovery can succeed without the support of teams and employees. It is clear that, even if the previous faults cannot be blamed on them, the [current] management team has not been able to acquire and maintain the confidence of the staff ”.
Founded in 1984, Camaïeu was placed in receivership on May 26, "heavily impacted by the health crisis and lack of a loan guaranteed by the State, which would have enabled it to overcome [this situation],” according to a source close to management.
The source also said that at the beginning of March, "the company had started to implement its transformation plan and a financing agreement was about to be concluded with the shareholders and the banks". But "the health crisis forced the group to suddenly close more than 800 stores around the world,” causing a "shortfall of €162 million.”
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